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Memorial Day Around New York

Monday, May 28, 2012

An American flag. An American flag. (bloomgal/flickr)

New York City's Memorial Day observances included both parades and solemn ceremonies. And with sunny skies and temperatures reaching the mid-80s, thousands of people spent their Memorial Day holiday at New York's parks and beaches. Schools, banks and post offices were all closed.

A wreath was laid in the Hudson River at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum as part of an annual ceremony which also included a military flyover, a rifle salute, a performance of "Taps" and the unfurling of a 100-foot-wide U.S. flag. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly also spoke at the event.

Later in the afternoon, the U.S. Navy's commander for the mid-Atlantic threw out the first pitch at Citifield, where the Mets were taking on the Phillies.

Military veterans and their supporters marched in at least 11 parades across the five boroughs and around the region. One of those parades, the Kings County Memorial parade in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, celebrated its 145th year today.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke this morning at the Soldiers' and Sailors' monument on the Upper West Side, then spent the afternoon in Queens, where he marched as part of the Whitestone Veterans Memorial Association Service and Parade, then later in the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Parade.

The Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant saw its first ever Memorial Day parade on Monday. Organizers unveiled a new black granite veterans' memorial.

Wendy McClinton is president and CEO of Black Veterans for Social Justice, the group behind the effort. She said while the event honored veterans from World War II, Iraq and Afghanistan, she hoped it also sparked some dialogue about the needs of returning veterans.

“Every day, another one comes home with the remnants of a TBI, a traumatic brain injury. Or post-traumatic stress disorder from being in a combat area situation. How do we deal with that? We need to talk about the services that they need.”

McClinton’s non-profit released a position paper outlining the best ways to help returning veterans re-adjust to civilian life.

In Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, people were out in droves to enjoy the spring weather.

Marvelette Forbes and her husband had set up folding chairs in a shady spot in the park, and fired up the grill for some serious cooking. She described the day’s planned menu.

“Barbeque chicken, grilled chicken, festivals with a little French fry, and other little snacks so the children can enjoy their day."

Festivals are a traditional Jamaican cornbread fritter. The family came to the park with board games for afternoon entertainment. Scrabble was on the top of the pile.

Elsewhere in the park, 10-year old Francesca Morris-Perez came to Brooklyn with her parents from their home in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.

"I love this place,” she said. “It’s so open. It feels like the country. I love that."

Memorial Day weekend also marked the official opening of all city beaches.

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