Hundreds packed into the Our Lady of Victory Church in Floral Park, just over the Nassau County border, to pay their respects to the nation's fallen war veterans.
"We honor the ones that went out and served the United States in our times of need," said Patrick Murphy, a member of American Legion Post 334.
The post members marched about a quarter mile through the rain along Tulip Avenue before holding the 11th Hour ceremony in the church.
"This date has historical significance since the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month was set aside over 80 years ago as the moment of armistice for World War I to end what was at that time the greatest military trial that mankind had ever endured," said James MacDonald, the post commander.
Members of the post, well into their 70s, presented the colors and held the flags of the United States and the American Legion upright for the entire half-hour ceremony. Wearing full uniforms and battle helmets, many of their faces appeared worn but unbroken.
The ceremony began with a moment of silence while chimes of church bells filled the somber room.
Yet the ceremony did not merely stress the virtue of military sacrifices.
"We must have the same kind of self-sacrifice, the same kind of bravery to fight for social and economic gains," said MacDonald.
Anita Burke, a Navy nurse in World War II, spoke about the trials faced by women during times of war.
"The horrors of the battlefield may not have been our experience, but we have lived with a terrible loneliness," she said.
Bill Corbett, the first vice commander of the post, said organizers were very pleased with the turnout for the ceremony.
About one-third of the members of the Floral Park American Legion Post are members of eastern Queens neighborhoods such as Bellerose, Queens Village, and Floral Park. Corbett said following the ceremony that four Queens residents signed up to become members of the post.
©2000 Community News Group
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