Rockaway Honors the Fallen

 Rockaway Honors the Fallen

Story and Photos

By Katie McFadden

Between beach time and barbecues, Rockaway took time to remember the reason behind the long holiday weekend—the supreme sacrifice of the military members who died for this country. Locals lined the streets and gathered around Rockaway’s war memorials to pay their respects at the annual Memorial Day Parade and ceremonies, hosted by American Legion Daniel M. O’Connell Post #272.

The events began with a Mass led by Monsignor Bracken at St. Francis de Sales on Monday morning, May 27. Following the Mass, all gathered at the Four Chaplains monument outside of the church for the opening ceremony. The Channel View band opened the ceremony with the playing of the National Anthem. U.S. Navy veteran Mike Honan led the ceremony, saying “Today we honor and salute our fallen servicemembers. Both men and women who answered their nation’s call to service, who have given the last full measure, in defense of our freedoms.” He mentioned that 41 million men and women have served in the U.S. military since the country’s inception and of those, 1.35 million have died for their country. He held a moment of silence for the fallen, before Father Bill Sweeney read the names of some of the locals who made the supreme sacrifice, the last being Kyle Mullen, who died during a U.S. Navy Seal training exercise in 2022. Monday would have been his birthday. After the names were read, wreaths were laid at the memorial. U.S. Army veteran Brian Galarza played Taps on the bugle, and all joined in to sing God Bless America.

The parade then continued down Rockaway Beach Boulevard to Memorial Circle at Beach 120th Street for another ceremony. There, Rabbi Carl of Temple Beth El read a prayer on behalf of the Jewish War Veterans and all others. Following that ceremony, the procession continued to the boardwalk and marched down to Beach 95th Street for the concluding ceremony at the Doughboy Monument. There, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato and a representative for Councilwoman Joann Ariola said a few words. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the veterans were welcomed to a reception at the Knights of Columbus.

During the ceremonies, Honan gave thanks to all who made the event possible including Parade Coordinator Jim Trainor, Msgr. Bracken and the clergy members of SFDS, the students of the SFDS Catholic Academy, the Channel View and Scholars’ Academy bands, the Scouts of America, the Graybeards, including Jim Mullen who installed the flags along Rockaway Beach Blvd., the Tubridy family and DJs@Work for setting up the speaker systems at each memorial, the AOH, the Knights of Columbus and more.

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