Memorial Day activities this year are taking on a different appearance as at least one ceremony will include a tribute to the victims of the September 11th attacks, along with the usual observances of war veterans.
The United Community Civic Association is sponsoring its ninth annual Memorial Day ceremony this Sunday at McManus Memorial Park in Astoria Heights, starting at 10 a.m. The park is located at the corner of 81st Street and Ditmars Boulevard.
The ceremony will begin with a prayer of invocation by Father Emillio J. Salerno, pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Astoria. The festivities will run for about two hours and the entire block will be closed off during the ceremony.
The events will include a processional featuring the New York City Department of Corrections Ceremonial Unit, the New York City Department of Corrections Pipe Band and the St. Joseph’s Brigade Fife and Drum Corps.
“We have always strived to bring memory back into Memorial Day,” said United Community Civic Association President Rose Marie Poveromo. “This year is especially important because of September 11th.”
The civic group’s ceremony will recognize this added significance with a special tribute to the people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. The tribute will be called “Heroes All.”
“It is important to mention not only the police officers and firefighters and EMT workers who died trying to save people, but what about all the innocents who died at their computers? It’s important to recognize the heroes of the declared wars, but we also have to recognize the victims of the undeclared wars,” she said.
“There used to be peace here and now there is no longer peace. There is war on our soil.”
The ceremony will also feature elected federal, state and city officials. Among those expected to attend include Congressman Joseph Crowley, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., Assemblyman Michael Gianaris, State Senator George Onorato and Queens Deputy Borough President Karen Koslowitz.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been invited, but it is unclear whether he will attend.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will serve free refreshments after the ceremony and the dance teams from the Variety Girls and Boys Club of Queens will provide entertainment.
It wouldn’t be Memorial Day in Queens without the holiday parade in Woodside, hosted by the Catholic War Veterans of St. Sebastian’s Post No. 870. This Monday’s event will be the 50th year that the organization has organized and sponsored the parade.
The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. with a solemn mass celebrated by Monsignor D. Joseph Finnerty at St. Sebastian’s Church located at 58th Street and Roosevelt Avenue. The mass usually draws more than a thousand people.
The mass will be followed by a parade, consisting of veterans’ groups and community organizations who will march through the streets of Woodside. The parade will start immediately after the mass at about 11:20 a.m. and will include prayers honoring the victims of the world wars at the Vietnam and Woodside Memorials along the avenue.
The parade will conclude at Doughboy Park at Woodside Avenue and 56th Street, where public officials and clergy will conduct a memorial for the war victims. City Councilman Walter McCaffery and Department of Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe will be among those on hand.
The ceremony will be followed by a groundbreaking of the park’s reconstruction, scheduled for 12:45 p.m.
Julie Grover and Mary McNamara, who have worked for over 50 years on the Ladies Auxiliary to the Catholic War Veterans, will serve as grand marshals for the parade.