NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City resident spent Memorial Day paying tribute to the men and women who gave their lives defending ours.
Ceremonies honoring our nation’s fallen were centered around the Hudson River, highlighted by a three-volley salute and a military flyover using the “missing man” formation.
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The deck of the Intrepid, which carried 3,000 sailors to every corner of a troubled world but is now decked peacefully in New York, is a place where local veterans can revisit their years serving their country.
“You think about buddies in Vietnam while you’re here, my buddies are left over there,” Leroy Gadsden, a Vietnam War veteran said. “They didn’t make it home.”
Aboard the Intrepid, a highlight every Memorial Day are the wreath laying ceremonies to honor those lost at sea.
“I just think of my brother-in-law,” Edward Minton, a Korean War veteran, said. “He died at sea in World War II. He was in the Merchant Marines.”
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It all serves as a sobering reminder to the young men and women serving today. A nation is grateful they are willing to take up arms in our defense.
“We’re well aware we put our lives on the line. We put that fort with pride, that we do what we can to serve our nation and protect our loved ones at home,” Seth Harbol, a West Point cadet, said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg marked the beginning of this Memorial Day by laying a wreath at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park.
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Bagpipes led the way for dozens of soldiers, sailors and Marines in town for Fleet Week.
The mayor called the sacrifices service members make “humbling” — especially as the city nears the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and the beginning of the war on terror.
“In New York City, the debt we owe to our armed forces is never far out of our minds,” Bloomberg said. ”We recognize that nearly 90 New Yorkers in our armed services have fallen in the battle in the war on terror that began on that terrible day.”
Bloomberg also marched in two parades in Queens — including the 84th annual tribute in Little Neck and Douglaston.
Nearly 80,000 New Yorkers lined the streets to watch what has become the largest Memorial Day parade in the country.
“It feels wonderful to honor the veterans who did so much for our country,” Virginia O’connor, of Briarcliff Manor, said.
A much smaller Memorial Day parade rolled through the picturesque heart of Whitestone, Queens.
The co-grand marshals included 86-year-old William Engel, whose family escaped the Nazis in 1939, and 87-year-old Esther Bauer, an Auschwitz survivor.
“It’s an honor to be here,” Bauer told CBS 2′s Dave Carlin.
Both grand marshals said as long as they are able, they will continue to get out in public and share their amazing stories.
“I hope they learn a lesson we learned from our bad experiences and good experiences,” Engel said.
Memorial Day parades were also held in towns across New Jersey. Residents of Oradell marched to honor the town’s fallen heroes, its veterans and to show hometown pride.
There was a similar show of support in Westfield, where people of all ages came out to cheer.
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