Broad Channel Honors Memorial Day

 Broad Channel Honors Memorial Day

By Dan Guarino

On Sunday, May 23, Broad Channel honored those of their island community who had fallen in service to their country, but who would not be forgotten.

The clear, sunny Memorial Day observances began at 9 a.m. as members of the Channel’s veterans’ groups and others were greeted by the congregation of Christ Presbyterian Church by the Sea. Following services conducted by visiting pastor Reverend Victoria Moss, Christ Presbyterian’s Joyce Adamiszyn noted, a roll call of Broad Channel’s fallen service members was solemnly read out, along with their branch of service, the conflict they died in, and the BC roads they lived on. As Reverend Moss summed up on a previous Memorial Day, “We believe that God is present in the darkness before the dawn, in the waiting and uncertainty where fear and courage join hands, conflict and caring link arms and the sunrise over barbed wire.”

At 10 a.m., Broad Channel’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 260 and American Legion Post 1404 members and others proceeded across to St. Virgilius RC Church for services led by Rev. Daniel Rajski and highlighted by the church’s New Life Choir. After a touching homily by Deacon Michael Pearce, “the next special part of the Mass was the ceremony for all our veterans,” said choir member Margaret Wagner. American Legion veteran Dennis McEneaney “read out all the names of the deceased veterans of Broad Channel and where they lived.” Fellow Legion member veteran Steve Albert “was in the choir loft and rang the bell after the naming of each veteran.”

Sadly missed this year was Monsignor Richard Ahlemeyer, who passed away on May 12.

Directly across from both churches on Noel Road, at 11 a.m. the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department, in full dress uniforms, held their own ceremony to pay tribute to those members they have lost over the years. In front of the community-built firehouse which has served Broad Channel for over a century, the ‘Vollies’ read out the names of all those “those who have answered their last alarm.”

The polished silver fire bell, which once sounded in times of emergency from the firehouse’s tower, now rang out after each name. According to former Chief Ed Wilmarth III, there were 578 names this year.

These included Chief Christian Hoobs who died June 14, 1917, lost in the line of duty while rushing to a neighborhood fire, and Captain Robert Nussberger who succumbed on May 7 of this year to illness contracted while part of a BCVD ambulance crew which rushed to give aid on September 11th, 2001.

After the firehouse memorial, veterans were invited to “the American Legion for coffee, tea and bagels,” Legion member Carol Corbet noted, then went “to 17th Road Park for another service and the parade.”

At 1 p.m. veterans and community members gathered at the park, just off Cross Bay Blvd. As part of tributes there, a rifle squad gave a nine-gun salute and each veterans’ group laid wreaths at the flagpole memorial inscribed with the names of those Channelites lost in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

Stepping off after the ceremony Broad Channel’s Memorial Day parade proceeded up Cross Bay Blvd to the George Riekers Veteran’s Memorial Park near East 6th Road.

The parade featured one new addition, BCVFD Ambulance 308, which, according to Wilmarth, is a “2010 Ford E350/Braun formerly of the North Bellmore VFD in Nassau County. It has an identical twin that is also coming in the next few weeks. These will be replacing the two current donated ambulances that have been in service since post-Sandy.” Through FEMA funds and trade-in of the old ambulances, the new vehicles will arrive at no cost to the community.

Councilwoman Joann Ariola and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato both spoke at the parade’s end at the final remembrance service of the day.

Ariola later stated, “I love seeing all of the veterans in Broad Channel make sure that those who didn’t make it home are remembered each year. Thank you to all those who served who organize the Memorial Day ceremony each year to remember those men and women who gave their life so that we may be free.”

Pheffer Amato noted, “It was my pleasure to once again march alongside heroic veterans in the annual Broad Channel Memorial Day Parade. We honor the incredible men and women who gave their lives defending our freedoms!” She also thanked the 100th Precinct, VFW Post 260 Prince Wynn Auxiliary, BCVFD, American Legion Post 1404, and Women’s Auxiliary for putting the parade together.

In a statement the NYPD’s 100th Precinct and Commanding Officer Captain Carol Hamilton said, “Today and every day we remember the sacrifice they paid. To honor those who have given their lives in service to our country. Today we’re honored to be part of the Broad Channel’s Memorial Day Parade at Cross Bay Boulevard and George Riekers Veterans Memorial.”

After the ceremonies, VFW member Crystal Austin confirmed, the day concluded with a barbecue for the veterans, families, guests and community members held on the spacious back lawn of the VFW’s post on Shad Creek Road.

Through comradeship and community, Broad Channel once again honored and remembered those who were no longer with them to celebrate. Those who sacrificed to protect their past, present and future.

Photos courtesy of Margaret Wagner, BCVFD/Ed Wilmarth III and the office of Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato.

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