BY SARA GILBERT
On Monday, May 28, the sun shone brightly and the Nyack community lined the sidewalks to cheer, honor and remember.
“The best part of the Memorial Day Parade is showing respect for the men and women who fought for our country,” said Michael Hely, the chief of the Central Nyack Fire Department.
The Nyack Memorial Parade this year honored Sgt. Reginald “Reggie” Maiorano who has been a member of the Nyack’s American Legion Post 310 for 66 years.
The parade stepped off at Franklin and Main Street. It proceeded east on Main, turned south down Broadway, east on Depew and into the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Park. At the park there was a ceremony with Gerald “Jerry” Donnellan as the keynote speaker and Commander Michael Longuil and Mayor Jen White placed a wreathe at the monument. To conclude the festivities, free hot dogs and soft drinks were served at Hot Dog Donna’s snack wagon.
Chief Hely’s goddaughter, Katie Piazza, 4, was there too; sporting an American flag influenced sundress.
“We come every year,” said Katie’s mother, Kristina. “She [Katie] likes to watch the trucks and sirens.”
For Sheila Tasaro’s children, Scott and Kacie, “the horses are their favorite part.” Sheila had come to the parade as a child and now with her family living in Upper Nyack, she wanted to share it with her children. Beginning at 11 a.m., through the main streets of Nyack, came marching bands, bagpipes, veterans, soldiers, boy scouts, firefighters, police officers, trucks, motorcycles and more. Along the sidelines, children, parents and dogs sat or stood waving American flags, clapping and cheering.
Once the parade gathered at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Park, which has a rich history of memorializing those who fought for our country, a prayer was said for those lost. “We pause today to pay tribute to our honored… and to give courage and comfort to those who’ve lost a loved one.”
Donnellan, a native of Nyack and wounded in Vietnam, spoke well about what Memorial Day means.
Every memorial day, Donnellan’s father, who was a strong and tough man, would show uncharacteristic emotion watching the parade. And it wasn’t until Donnellan himself came back from war that he truly understood what that was about. “It wasn’t the smoke or dust that made him tear up,” Donnellan jokes.
“We must honor those who didn’t come back by respecting and honoring those who did come back,” he said in conclusion. And now more than ever before, because “they’re coming back to an awful economy.”
Proud to be a Nyacker, Donnellan said, “This is home. I grew up here. And it was a great place to grow up.”
Veteran Michael Longuil echoes Donnellan’s description of what growing up in Nyack was like. “It was an adventurous place to grow up in, with lots to do. We would leave for vacation and not lock the front doors. It was so nice to grow up here.
“I never knew what discrimination or segregation was until I entered the army,” said Longuil, who commends Nyack for its truly open and accepting community.
However, according to Longuil, who taught in the Nyack High School for 32 years, things are different then they once were. It’s just not quite like it was in the good old days.