By Melissa Koenig
Typically, the Elmont community celebrates this time of the year with two parades — one for Memorial Day and one for Belmont Stakes Day.
But neither parade occurred this year, as social distancing measures remain in place.
“This is going to be kind of weird,” said Lecia Rodriques-Whyte, commander of the American Legion Post 1033, noting that many people from the town normally march from Sewanhaka High School to the veterans’ memorial at the intersection of Hempstead Turnpike and Covert Avenue, with a stop at the Elmont Memorial Library, and have a “very, very large parade.”
This year, however, the American Legion joined forces with Nassau County officials to hold a car parade beginning on Charles Lindberg Boulevard and ending at the Veterans’ Memorial at Eisenhower Park.
Rodriques-Whyte said she was happy that County Executive Laura Curran decided to do something special to commemorate Memorial Day this year, noting that large in-person celebrations may pose a health risk to veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals, and saying she is happy “as long as we can recognize the people that didn’t come home.”
In Franklin Square
Franklin Square veterans also held an alternative Memorial Day celebration this year.
They usually hold a parade with guest speakers and a barbecue, according to Commander John Conway. But this year, he said, the VFW Post 2718 invited the public to drive by the Veterans of Foreign Wars memorial located on Naple Avenue at Rath Park on Monday morning. Everyone remained in their cars, and was directed to pull up to place their flowers and flags at the memorial.
Following that, Conway said, the VFW would hold a private ceremony for its members at Rath Park, while members of the Venturing Crew 2718 salute from behind the fence.
The public was not invited to the ceremony, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on May 19 that ceremonies could only have 10 or fewer people, but Conway said he would try to film the ceremony for the public to enjoy,
“We cannot forget what they’ve done in the past, and what they will do in the future,” Comway said of those who have sacrificed their lives for this country. “We always have to remember.”