Observed (not celebrated) every year on the last Monday in May, its origins stretch back to the days following the Civil War when it was known as Decoration Day, named for the solemn act of adorning the final resting place of soldiers with flowers and flags.
American Legion Post 118 in Woodhaven has faithfully observed Memorial Day for the last century, and there are quite a few opportunities to join them this weekend to pay respect to those who gave their all to this country, in particular, those who were our friends and neighbors.
American Legion Post 118 has revived an old tradition of decorating the Memorial Trees in Forest Park, the trees along Forest Park Drive that were planted for those from Woodhaven who gave their lives during World War I.
There will be a reception on Thursday, May 21, at 5 p.m. at Oak Ridge in Forest Park, where you can pay your respects to the residents from Woodhaven who gave their all nearly a century ago.
Directly after the reception, starting at 7:30 p.m., you can join your fellow residents nearby at Forest Parkway and Jamaica Avenue at the annual Memorial Day Observance hosted by the American Legion and the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation.
It is a touching ceremony that will remind you that although we live in the biggest city in the world, we still have the luxury of living in a small tight-knit town.
On Sunday, May 24, residents will represent Woodhaven in the annual Memorial Day parade in Forest Hills. Woodhaven was always represented well in this parade, but in recent years our participation has dwindled to a precious few marchers. But last year we rebounded and over a dozen residents marched in the parade and we hope to top that total this year.
Interested in joining us in representing Woodhaven? Meet us at Ascan and Metropolitan avenues (near the Cinemart Movie Theater) around 11:30 a.m. It is a relatively short march to the Remsen Family Cemetery just off Woodhaven Boulevard.
Locally, there will be a beautiful Memorial Day observance at American Legion Post 118 at 91st Street and 89th Avenue (behind PS 60) on Monday, May 25, starting at 10:30 a.m.
Each year, the Air Force Junior ROTC from the Franklin K. Lane Campus School carries on a tradition of putting up a Garden of Remembrance in the front yard, a sea of white crosses representing all of the members of the Woodhaven Post who are no longer with us.
There will be a ceremony of remembrance, complete with a flag ceremony and a moment of silence while “Taps” is played. Afterwards, everyone is invited inside the Legion Hall for refreshments. It is a beautiful tradition that has been carried on for many decades and if you have never been a part of it, you should make the time to be a part of it this year.
Before the ceremony at the American Legion a new tradition will be born. A small group of residents will be meeting at the Memorial Trees in Forest Park (outside Oak Ridge) at 9 a.m. on Monday.
We will leave at 9:15 and walk down Forest Parkway and arrive at the World War II memorial near Jamaica Avenue at 9:30 a.m.
From there we will walk to the Whiting Square World War 1 memorial (aka The Rock) at 84th Street and 91st Avenue, arriving at approximately 9:50 a.m.
From there we will walk to St. Thomas the Apostle where, in the back of the church there is a memorial for those residents of Woodhaven killed in World War II. We should arrive around 10:10 a.m.
And from there we will make our way to the American Legion in time for the 10:30 a.m. observance. Everyone is welcome to join us at the Memorial Trees or to join us somewhere along the way.
So, there you have it – a variety of opportunities to pay your respects and remember those who gave their lives in the name of our country; in the name of Woodhaven. We hope that you’ll join us for at least one of these observances. Simply put, there is no excuse good enough not to.