First is the traditional Memorial Day Observance at Forest Parkway and Jamaica Avenue sponsored by the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation and led by American Legion Post 118.
This observance, which takes place in front of the monument dedicated to local soldiers killed in World War II, will be held on Thursday, May 24, at 7:30 p.m. There will be a presentation of the color guard, a laying of the wreath and patriotic music.
This is a beautiful event, all made possible because Woodhaven remembers.
Next is the decorating of the Memorial Trees of Forest Park, which starts on Saturday, May 26, at 9:30 a.m. outside of Oak Ridge, which is just north of the intersection of Park Lane South and Forest Park Drive.
In the wake of World War I, residents wanted to do something unique to remember the sacrifice of the 70 young men from Woodhaven who lost their lives during that conflict.
Seventy pin oak trees were planted, each in the name of a soldier, and many of those trees are still standing 99 years later.
Families began decorating the trees dedicated to their loved ones, a tradition that continued for a few decades but faded away as families moved away.
The tradition ended when the monument dedicated to the soldiers was moved in 1942 to the front yard of the new American Legion Post.
But a few years ago when this tradition was rediscovered, residents wanted to do something special so they began decorating the trees once more. And this Saturday, residents will come out and keep this 99-year-old tradition alive because Woodhaven remembers.
Volunteers for the decorating of the trees are welcome and needed. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (718) 805-2002 for more information.
And finally, on Memorial Day, American Legion Post 118 will be hosting its annual observance at the Garden of Remembrance, which was erected by the Franklin K. Lane ROTC this past Sunday.
They did an excellent job, per usual, laying out the field of markers, each representing either a local resident who was killed in action or a veteran member of the post who is no longer with us.
The observance begins at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 28, at Post 118 headquarters at 89-02 91st Street (on 89th Avenue behind P.S. 60).
Sadly, this year the garden grew by one, with a marker added for Dennis Poeppel, who passed away a few weeks ago.
His will join the hundreds of other markers on display every year, including one for young Harry Schmitt, who was killed in 1958 and whose family is coming back to Woodhaven for this observance.
This observance takes place rain or shine, and is a fitting way to begin Memorial Day.
Many of these markers represent young soldiers who gave their lives for our great country. They were never afforded the opportunity to become old veterans with great stories to tell. They never had the opportunity to raise families and start careers and live out the fullness of their lives.
These markers not only represent terrible and painful losses to their families, but each marker represents a loss to our community. It is the very least we can do, as a community, to gather once a year to acknowledge that loss.
And to remember. Because one thing that residents of Woodhaven are good at is remembering.
And so, as we head towards the three-day weekend, you are probably looking ahead and planning some activities. Maybe a party or a barbecue, maybe just sitting back and watching lots of sports or movies on Netflix.
But each and every one of you owes it to the young soldiers of Woodhaven who gave their lives for our country to come out to these touching memorials and observances.
This is the weekend that Woodhaven remembers. And with three opportunities to do so, there are very few excuses to not attend at least one of them.