On Memorial Day the American people, according to Congressman Tim Bishop, “Take the opportunity to do something they should do every day, that is say thank you to all the veterans who died defending our country and its freedom.” Last summer, Joseph Theinert, 24, of Shelter Island, a lieutenant in the 71st Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army, was added to that list when he was killed in a truck bombing in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It was Theinert’s first tour of duty overseas. In 2008, Sag Harbor resident Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 19, a rifleman in the Marine Corps, was killed in action in Ramadi, Iraq. The faces and memories of these two local boys who gave their country the ultimate sacrifice by offering their lives to protect our freedoms is just what Memorial Day is all about.
The history of sacrifice for the cause of freedom on the East End perhaps starts with the brave actions of the local Hamptons patriots assisting Washington’s retreat after his defeat in the Battle of Long Island. Those soldiers who died then started a long list of local heroes long gone, but never forgotten. We remember them by placing small American flags at all the local cemeteries. Attending local parades and festivities is a jewel of the American experience. The pride and patriotism one feels while watching his or her neighbors march in a Memorial Day parade is an important part of the national fabric.
Here is a list of Memorial Day events happening here on Monday:
In Sag Harbor, the Sag Harbor Memorial Day Parade starts at 9 a.m. at Mashashimuet Park, going down Main Street and ending at the American Legion Post on Bay Street. When I attended this parade in the past, I just couldn’t help feeling the historic presence of parades in this timeless Main Street Sag Harbor Village.
The East Hampton Memorial Day Parade starts at 11 a.m. at Guild Hall on Main Street and marches east to the East Hampton Village Monument across from the post office and next to the Windmill. I have attended this parade a few times and it features lots of fire engine sirens and local children with their parents in historic cars. Again with the beautiful East Hampton Village in high feather the feeling is wonderful. It is a flag-waving, fun, small-town moment. For information contact the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce at 631-324-0362.
The Southampton Memorial Day Service starts at 11 a.m. on Jobs Lane with a route to Agawam Park. For more information about the SH parade call 631-283-1623. For those west of the Shinnecock Canal there are Memorial Day Parades in both Hampton Bays and Westhampton/Quogue. The Hampton Bays Memorial Day Parade starts at 10 a.m. at 55 Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays and ends at the cemetery in a wreath placement ceremony. Hampton Bays parade information is available by calling 631-728-0342. For all those in the Westhampton area the Westhampton Memorial Day Parade starts at 11 a.m. on Montauk Highway Station Road in Westhampton. The ceremony is at the Westhampton Cemetery War Memorial with a reception immediately following at the VFW Hall on Montauk Highway in Quogue. For information about the Westhampton parade call 631-288-3263.
In Montauk on Memorial Day Weekend, there will be a two-day (Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30) event. On Sunday at 12:30 p.m., marchers will gather for the first “Montauk Memorial Parade of Flags” near the Montauk Post Office. The celebration starts on the Village Green early on Memorial Day, Monday, with Reveille and flag raising at 8 a.m. Any U.S. Veteran interested in enjoying a free Dinner for Vets, donated by The Old Harbor House on Sunday the 29, please contact Ken at 516-527-8593. Dinner will include a video presentation of Red Skelton’s famous emotional routine about “The Pledge of Allegiance.”
Just a few weeks back, I visited Washington, D.C., and took the time to visit both the Vietnam War Memorial and the World War II Memorial. Seeing so many names carved into stone makes one take pause to realize the hundreds of thousands of American men and women, some really just boys and girls, who died defending our futures.
Joseph Theinert and Jordan Haerter, who most likely attended a few of these parades, are now on the long list of those who have perished on battlefields. I attended Pelham Memorial High School located on a former American Revolution Battle Field where almost every local militiaman there died in an attempt to delay the British from reaching Washington’s forces. On top of the High School auditorium are the words, “Honor here the morals for which they fought.” On Monday May 30, 2011, it is our collective honor as a nation to thank all who served and died. They live through the freedom that endures.