Broad Channel Honors Its Heroes

 Broad Channel Honors Its Heroes

Story and Photos

By Dan Guarino

Sunday, May 28, was bright, sunny and warm as members from Broad Channel’s American Legion Post 1404, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 260, Girl School Troop 04434 and the Broad Channel Fire Department, the BC Junior Fire Department, elected officials, friends, family and neighbors came to honor Memorial Day.

In a ceremony at 17th Road Park, the community paused to remember the men and women who have fallen in service to their country. After remarks from officers of the Channel’s veterans’ groups, a list of those from Broad Channel lost in war was read. Poignantly each name was followed by their age at death and what road they lived on before going to war. Wreaths were laid by Legion and VFW members at the spacious park’s flagpole. A nine-gun salute was fired, which was followed by a lone veteran bugler playing “Taps” as the sun shone down on the gathering. A recording of the “Star Spangled Banner” was then played.

After the ceremony, each group formed up ranks and the Broad Channel Memorial Parade proceeded north on Cross Bay Blvd. Along the way they were greeted by community members who applauded and waved their own flags as the parade passed by. The parade proceeded to the George Riekers Memorial Park, located on Cross Bay between East 4th and East 6th Roads. Along with often emotional remarks from VFW and Legion officers, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato and State Senator James Sanders, himself a former Marine, also spoke. Preceding this was the laying of wreaths, a nine-gun salute, and the playing of “Taps” and then the national anthem.  

Afterwards, all were invited to a barbecue at the VFW post’s backyard which edges Jamaica Bay. Earlier in the day, special Memorial Day services were held at BC’s Christ Presbyterian By the Sea and then at St. Virgilius Church. Following this, a ceremony dedicated to those members who had “answered their last alarm” was held at the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department firehouse across Noel Road. A gleaming silver fire bell was rung as each name was read. In its over 110-year history only one BCVFD member has died in the line of duty. Chief Christian Hoobs suffered a fatal heart attack on June 14, 1917, while rushing to fight a fire in the Channel. As one former chief noted as the names of the department’s departed was read a few years ago, “The list never gets any shorter.” As the tight-knit island community came together to reflect and honor those it had lost, perhaps one man’s shirt said it best. Wore by a veteran it said, “Don’t thank me. Thank my brothers who never made it home.”

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