NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio this Memorial Day led observances to remember those who gave their last measure of devotion, at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park.
As CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported, soldiers, sailors, and veterans gathered in Riverside Park to pay tribute.
“It’s a day to keep their memory alive, and it’s a day to think, obviously, about what they fought for. It’s up to us to continue to perfect democracy that they died for,” de Blasio said.
Active servicemen and women were in the crowd, along with veterans of the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and World War II.
“I come every year because it’s a must. It’s on my heart as a real American. I was born in Puerto Rico, but see what I’m wearing here?” said Korean War veteran Thomas Lopez as he showed his American flag tie.
“I got shot three times, and that’s my purple heart,” added veteran Ray Fisher.
Memorial Day is about honor, and at 8 year sold, Solomon Rogatnick already knows that. A sergeant in the Knickerbocker grays, he was out on Monday to pay respect to those he represents.
“I feel very happy to represent those who sacrificed themselves,” he said.
The ceremony at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is the city’s largest Memorial Day observance. It pays tribute to veterans of all wars, with a special emphasis on those who died during the Civil War.
The mayor also attended a ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, along with hundreds of veterans, service members, and other patriotic New Yorkers.
As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported, de Blasio’s perspective on sacrifice came from his father, who lost half his leg at Okinawa.
“Every time I heard a story of someone that didn’t come back, it was obviously an act of keeping someone’s memory alive,” the mayor said.
That was exactly what Army Capt. Maxine Shillingford came to do.
“The sea of people — they’re here doing the same thing that I am doing,” Shillingford said. “It makes me even much more proud.”
And gazing out over the 100-foot flag unfurled along the mighty Intrepid, Stanley Wright thought of Vietnam.
“It was nasty,” he said.
Wright thought of the 16 who died from his housing project in East Harlem, and thought of how much he does not want the young soldiers, sailors and Marines to know the pain of that time.
“You’ve got to lift them up,” he said.
Meanwhile in Englewood, New Jersey, thousands lined the streets to honor the men and women who have served the country. The sunny weather felt like July 4, but area residents said they wouldn’t have been anywhere else.
As 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported, a ceremony was held Monday morning on Palisades Avenue in Englewood.
“It means a lot to be an American; to have benefited from all these servicemen who have protected us over the years,” one man said, “and we’re showing our grandchildren the same feeling.”
“We’re able to be here because of them,” a woman said. “I’m really praying that all of the veterans can hurry home, and that we can have peace.”
More than 100 residents of Englewood have died in battle since World War I.
Bronx Marine Gives From The Heart
For one Marine Corps veteran Memorial Day was a chance to give from the heart with a noble and selfless act that paid tribute to his fellow veterans and his family.
As CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport reported, Sgt. Gonzalo Duran is once again on a mission. This time his goal is to create a lasting legacy for his father Vincent, who died in 2010, by creating a place for homeless veterans to live.
Duran found himself homeless for 4 months after returning home from Iraq. He was one of about 1,600 homeless veterans in the city.
“There were hard times and dark places that I don’t like to think about anymore,” he said.
New Gonzalo is doing something about it by renovating his father’s dilapidated Bronx home into a temporary housing shelter with twenty beds.
It’s a place that Gonzalo said will serve those who have truly served, something that his father would have liked.
“I think he would be proud of what I’m doing today,” he said.
There is much work to be done including plumbing, painting, and permits, but Gonzalo said that he hopes to have the place up and running by November.
“So we can keep veterans from being out in the cold,” he said.
Gonzalo also runs a veterans and community advocacy group.
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