Airman Norm Barry may no longer have the strength he had when he flew above the Aleutian Islands in World War II, but the Forest Hills resident still holds patriotism and respect for his fellow soldiers in the highest regard.
The American Legion Continental Post 1424 member stood along the Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade route on Metropolitan Avenue Sunday afternoon and saluted the men and women who, like him, risked everything for their country and the freedoms Americans to this day enjoy.
“It’s not a happy day. It’s a day when our hearts bleed for our comrades who didn’t make it back,” he said, standing tall as tears streamed down his face. “How many times can I salute when my heart aches? I was in World War II and, unfortunately, I haven’t got the strength to walk, so I’m again standing here to salute.”
Barry was joined by many others in his appreciation for those who have fought in battle for the United States, and the message he said he hoped people would hear was that civilians safe at home should not forget the country is still at war and the troops need continued support.
Bonnie Carey of Glendale echoed his words. Hers is a family with a tradition of service: Her late husband fought in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and her grandson has completed two tours in Iraq with the Army.
As rows of veterans in vintage cars and on floats, Boy Scouts in their tan uniforms, marching bands and firefighters marched by, she said it is important to take time on Memorial Day to reflect on the critical role members of the military have had in protecting the values that make America great.
“I just watch and hope that the next generation, the younger people, have the same sense of patriotism,” she said. “Memorial Day is just to remind everybody about all the wars and the men who died. It’s important. Freedom doesn’t come cheap.”
David Yakubov of Forest Hills said he hoped bringing his three children to the parade was a means of making Carey and Barry’s hopes come true.
“To understand the importance of the fact that there are people out there fighting for us, that’s what’s important for kids to know,” he said. “It brings them closer to what happened so it’s not just in history books.”
Yakubov’s daughter, Elliana, 6, seemed to understand the meaning of Memorial Day, as did many other children in attendance, including Kew Gardens resident Mike Dixon’s 10-year-old daughter Hope, who wore an American flag shirt to the parade.
“It’s a day to remember the people who died, who fought in the wars,” she said.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2010 Community News Group
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