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West Point commander is grand marshal of 2018 Brooklyn Memorial Day parade

Band from afar: The Trailblazers Marching Band, from Gardner-Edgerton High School in Gardner, Kans., will be one of 18 bands marching in the 151st annual Kings County Memorial Day Parade in Bay Ridge.
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This Memorial Day in Bay Ridge, they’ll strike up the bands — all 18 of them.

The 151st annual Kings County Memorial Day Parade — the oldest continuous large city Memorial Day march in the U.S. — is set to step off Monday, May 28, at 11 am from 78th Street and Third Ave.

Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen, Jr., Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, will serve as Grand Marshal for the 2018 parade, and he’ll be joined by deputy parade marshals George Broadhead, a retired Marine, and Army veteran Thomas Trombone — both of whom served in the Korean War — and Army Vietnam veteran Barry Berger.

“The Deputy Grand Marshals are three veterans who have championed Brooklyn veterans’ issues and have supported the parade for many years,” said Raymond Aalbue, a U.S. Air Force veteran and executive director of the parade committee. “Broadhead was wounded in the final battle before the truce in Korea and was awarded the Silver Star medal for gallantry and the Purple Heart for his actions.”

The United Military Veterans of Kings County, the parade organizers, are touting this year’s event as the most elaborate ever, with 18 bands participating, including the West Point Marching Band, the Trailblazers Band from Gardner-Edgerton High School in Gardner, Kans., the Fort Hamilton High School Marching Band. The Army Junior ROTC Battalion, the Boy and Girl Scouts and several local labor unions will be represented in the line of march, along with many civic organizations, the NYPD and the FDNY. Seven floats, led by one featuring the Military Order of the Purple Heart and another staffed by members of the Hope for Warriors wounded veterans’ group, will also travel the route, as will vehicles for those veterans who are not able to march.

From its starting point, the parade — which dates back to 1867 when Brooklyn was an independent city and the third largest in the nation — will move along Third Avenue to Marine Avenue, then over to Fourth Avenue before ending in John Paul Jones Park at 101st Street, near the main entrance to the Fort Hamilton Army Base, where a posst-parade memorial service will be held.

The memorial service will includes bag pipe-playing, the laying of wreaths by Brooklyn’s veteran service organizations, the raising of Old Glory, a 21-gun salute by the Veteran Corps of Artillery — New York State’s oldest military unit, dating back to the Revolutionary War — dressed in 1812-era uniforms, and the playing of taps by two Fort Hamilton High School Marching Regiment students.

“It is an emotional ceremony, one that drives home the solemnity of the day,” said parade vice president Connie Ranocchia. “All we ask people to do is to take some time out of their day to remember the terrible price so many Americans had to pay for our freedom. And we must remember their families. We hope there’s a big turnout along the route and everyone joins us in Cannonball Park for our memorial service. It’s really impressive.”

The 151st annual Kings County Memorial Day Parade will step off from 78th Street and Third Avenue in Bay Ridge at 11 am Monday, May 28, 2018.

Reach James Harney at (718) 260-2529 or e-mail him at jharney@cnglocal.com.
Updated 8:03 pm, May 22, 2018
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