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Young artists portray realities of warfare

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Even though they have never experienced the duty or tragedy of war, the youth of Little Neck and Douglaston know a thing or two about what it means to fight for your country.

Each year the members of the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade committee make sure area students get the chance to honor America’s veterans with an annual arts and essay contest that attracted more than 300 students in 2001 alone.

“A lot of the stuff was really from the heart,” said contest organizer Edith Basom of this year’s entries. “It seemed the children were caught up in the realities of war and not in the heroics of battle.”

On May 25 the 20 students who were chosen as winners in this year’s contest will be presented with medals at a special ceremony by state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), Basom said.

Students from five area schools, including, PS 94, PS 221 and MS 67 in Little Neck and PS 98 and St. Anastasia’s in Douglaston, entered either poems, essays or artwork on this year’s contest. The subject of the prize entries ranged from either Memorial Day, the annual Little Neck-Douglaston parade, or the 2001 theme, the “50th Anniversary of the Korean War: Freedom is not Free.”

The Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade is believed to be the second largest in the nation after Chicago’s annual event. The annual march, held every year on Memorial Day at 2 p.m., has been going on for more than 70 years.

The annual arts and essay contest is one of the events organized by the parade committee to help honor area veterans. An interfaith religious service is also held the morning of the parade by local clergy.

Member of the parade committee judge entries in the arts and essay contest and winners get the chance to march in the parade.

With penciled drawings and brightly colored paintings, three-dimensional imagery and simple artwork, this year’s winning entries focused on the sacrifices made by soldiers and their families in the Korean War.

One drawing depicted a tiny girl with an adult visiting the grave of a dead soldier, while others showed people dying on the battlefield. Written entries ranged from students who told the stories of their grandfather’s war experiences to poems on the need to make freedom a priority.

“Nowhere did we find children referring to war in idealized terms,” Basom said. “It was a very special experience for me.”

The authors or artists of the winning entries — 20 in all — will be awarded their prizes at 7:30 p.m. on May 25 at Father Smith Hall at the St. Anastasia school on Northern Boulevard and 245th Street in Douglaston. The winning essays, poems and artwork will also be displayed on the parade’s web site at www.littleneck.net.

The parade route for this year’s march stretches from Jayson Avenue in Great Neck westbound along Northern Boulevard before ending in the St. Anastasia’s parking lot near 245th Street.

Contributions to the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade can be sent to P.O. Box 630144, Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0144. For more information, call 224-6114 or e-mail parade@littleneck.net. Information is also available on the web at www.littleneck.net.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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