By Alberto Gilman
The Town of New Windsor held their annual Memorial Day Parade on Sunday, May 21, marking the beginning of the summer season. Prior to the fun and festivities, community members and veterans gathered to partake in a memorial service at the Veterans Memorial Monument located at the corner of Route 94 and Route 9W.
Beginning at Calvary Cemetery in New Windsor, Joe Staniewicz led with bagpipes Marine Corps Color Guard members, the New Windsor Police Officer Color Guard, cadets of the Newburgh Free Academy Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and New Windsor Fire Department members. New Windsor community members and elected officials followed the group to the memorial.
New Windsor American Legion Post 1796 Commander Joe Pifer welcomed those gathered in remembrance of veterans in the community and called up Chaplain Deacon Tony Ferraiuolo for the opening prayer to begin the service. Ferraiuolo asked those gathered to pray for current service members, prisoners of war, those missing in action, service members who have passed on and for the many families of the service members. “Lord, lift the hearts of those for whom this holiday is a day that may invoke painful memories. We remember today with compassion all those who died in service to our country in combat in the great cause of freedom. Let us reflect in a special way on the ultimate sacrifice they made, giving their lives to protect the freedoms that we enjoy every day,” said Ferraiuolo. “We gather to show our gratitude and gratefulness for the ultimate price paid by so many brave men and women who have given their lives throughout the history of our great nation, protecting us from harm. We also remember the families of our deceased servicemen and women, and the families of those currently serving. We ask for your unique blessing to fill the emptiness in their hearts and in their homes. And we pray that you continue to bring them peace, hope and strength.”
Sgt. Major MaryKay Messenger of the West Point Band was then called to the podium to sing the National Anthem, and Town Officials such as Councilmen Stephen Bedetti and Steve Moreau, Councilwomen Eve Lincoln and Sylvia Santiago, Town Clerk Kelly Allegra, Police Chief Daniel Valeri and other distinguished guests were recognized. Assemblyman Chris Eachus and several Gold Star Mothers were also recognized and welcomed for their attendance.
New Windsor Supervisor George Meyers was called to the podium to present the Lt. Commander Nicholas Brooks Award to a resident for their service to the New Windsor community. This memorial award was created in remembrance and in honor of Lt. Commander Brooks who was a resident of the town and classmate of the former Town Supervisor George Green. Brooks had lost his life in the line of duty. This year’s recipient of the Nicholas Brooks Award was Councilman Bedetti.
“I can’t think of anybody whose community service goes above and beyond more than Stephen Bedetti. Steven is involved in a myriad of things,” said Meyers. “We always give this award to a very deserving person and there’s nobody more deserving than Steven. I’m looking forward to turning the reins over to him.”
Honorary guest speaker Deputy Commissioner of Emergency Services for Orange County, New York and Retired United States Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Alan Mack reflected on his 35 years of military service with the crowd. For Mack, he remembers over 20 of his friends in the service who are no longer with us. “Today we’ll remember the men and women who served our great nation and died as a result. They all had one thing in common, they committed to a cause greater than themselves, representing America,” said Mack. “Let’s memorialize their sacrifice and keep them alive in our hearts.”
Wreaths at the memorial were presented by New Windsor American Legion Post 1796, the Catholic War Veterans Joseph R. Farina Memorial Post 386, Sons of the American Legion Post 1796, American Legion Auxiliary Post 1796, New Windsor Police Department, New Windsor Ambulance Corp, New Windsor employees and officials, Vails Gate Fire Department, New Windsor Fire Department, NFA Junior ROTC and New Windsor Girl Scouts. Sgt. Major MaryKay Messenger was then called up once again to perform God Bless America to the crowd. Members of the Catholic War Veterans performed a ceremonial firing demonstration with the playing of Taps following soon after. Joe Staniewicz performed Amazing Grace on the bagpipes for the crowd.
Several hours later, the parade floats and vehicles gathered in their respective divisions. For the parade itself, the first division began with NWPD Motorcycles, the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club, NWPD Color Guard, Grand Marshall Walter Milliken, New Windsor elected officials, county/state elected officials, Whispering Winds Horses and Ancient Order of Hibernians Pipes and Drums Band. The second division featured the Marine Corps Color Guard, American Legion Color Guard and Float, a trolley with town veterans, the Catholic War Veterans, Heritage Marching Band, Hudson Valley Honor Flight vehicle and NWFD Color Guard, Ladies Auxiliary and vehicles/trucks, Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church and Orange County Professional Musicians Band 1. The third and final division included NFA JROTC Color Guard and cadets, New Windsor Boy and Girl Scout Troops, New Windsor/Newburgh Little League, the NFA Marching Band, Vails Gate Fire Department Color Guard and vehicles/trucks, Orange County Professional Musicians Band 2, New Windsor Ambulance Corps vehicles and New Windsor Highway Department vehicles.
The floats and vehicles made their way along Route 94 to New Windsor school as candy was given out and residents waved and cheered for their friends and neighbors in the parade. Thus concluded another Memorial Day celebration for the Town of New Windsor.