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Laurelton honors vets at annual Memorial Day parade

Marchers, local leaders and veterans came out bright and early on Memorial Day to honor the brave soldiers who fought for America.

The annual Laurelton Memorial Day Parade started at 9 a.m. at Merrick and Francis Lewis boulevards and ended at the veterans’ triangle at 225th Street and Conduit Avenue.

Clifton Lynch, an elder at the Seventh−day Adventist Church in Laurelton, visited the parade for the first time and said he was moved by the number of people who came out to give their thanks to the troops.

“It’s community service,” he said. “It will show them how much we appreciate their service.”

A group of veterans from the area, who served in various wars from World War II to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan led the parade route, proudly marching in their uniforms.

John Schank Jr., who retired from the Army in 1995 after 26 years of service, said he feels proud every time he sees the parade bystanders cheer him and his comrades for their service.

“When I see all the people out here, it shows me that they appreciate all of the work the young men and women have done for this country,” the 70−year−old said.

Younger marchers, like Ronald Harmon, 19, of St. Albans, said they were excited about participating in the day’s festivities, too. Harmon said he was able to give the veterans special thanks by joining them in the parade as a band member of the Adventist Church’s Pathfinders group.

“With all that’s going on, people don’t get the chance to see that the troops are just like us,” he said.

Parents of the young marchers said their children, who belonged to organizations such as the Boy and Girl scouts, would learn life−long lessons by directly participating in the parade. June Rose, whose son, Roger, 8, walked with his Boy Scouts troop, said her son would continue to do community service just like the veterans.

“It encourages the youth. It motivates them to join groups,” she said.

Borough President Helen Marshall joined City Councilmen James Sanders (D−Laurelton), John Liu (D−Flushing) and David Weprin (D−Hollis) at the parade.

Sanders, a former Marine and chairman of the Council’s Veterans Committee, urged residents to continue to show their gratitude for the troops year round.

“We have to make sure we continue to grow and let people know the necessity of support,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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