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Forest Hills Memorial Parade dazzles Metropolitan Avenue

Spectators lined the parade route from the headquarters of sponsoring organization American Legion Continental Post 1424 at 107-15 Metropolitan Avenue west to Trotting Course Lane and cheered for the soldiers and local civic organizations who marched by. Popular floats like the one with the USO Torch Singers, dressed in sparkly red, white and blue outfits and crooning patriotic songs, and the PS 144 student contingent drew loud applause as well.Lauren Cassidy and Siana Minucci, college sophomores home for the summer, were taking a break from scooping ice cream at Eddie's Sweet Shop at Metropolitan and 72nd avenues and stood outside the store, taking in the sights and sounds. "The Memorial Day parade rocks," Minucci said. With equal enthusiasm, Forest Hills residents Mary Jane Brett and her son Billy waved at the passing marchers as the family's yellow Labrador mix Westie mugged for cameras while sporting a felt American flag collar. "This is a big event for us every year," Brett said. "I wouldn't miss it for anything in the world." Billy said he favored the macho displays of military might instead of the lovely USO singers. "I want to see the tanks and jeeps," he said. But behind the parade's spectacle was the serious reminder of the soldiers who have died to protect America, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a post-parade ceremony at Remsen Memorial Cemetery. "There are an awful lot of men and women who died in the last 235 years to give us the freedoms we enjoy everyday," Bloomberg said. "This day is a sacred day," said former Legion 1424 County Commander John Severa, who gave the blessing during the memorial ceremony before several commemorative wreaths were laid in the cemetery. "May the ceremony let us renew our pledge of loyalty and keep us steadfast in true Americanism." After City Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills) sang the National Anthem, state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), a Korean War veteran in his own right, recalled receiving an Army publication in the mail that ran photos of 600 men and women who had died in combat in the past year. He urged people to reflect on the soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for their country. "Remember them as you see them, and think of the careers and lives cut short," Maltese said. Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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