Community honors fallen heroes
by Clayton Smith
On Monday, May 25, Cold Spring was flooded with excitement and patriotism as residents came together to make the annual Memorial Day Parade through the village all the way to the cemetery on Peekskill Road.
At 9 a.m. many anxious children and adults alike waited at the bottom of Main Street for the start of the procession to honor fallen soldiers as well as our local veterans. Among the local organizations that participated were the Cold Spring Fire Company, North Highlands Fire Department, Garrison Volunteer Fire Company and Philipstown Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
The Haldane High School Band left retiring teacher and member of the National Guard 42nd Infantry Division Band Debbie Contini with a nice last memory of conducting the parade. The band kept the morning lively with a spirited rendition of “Eye of the Tiger.” Attendees were also given a sizeable dose of bagpipes thanks to the Hudson Highlands Pipe Band.
At the corner of Main and Chestnut Street, Rev. Shane Scott-Hamblen of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church read a passage from the Bible and then handed the microphone off to Philipstown Reform Synagogue’s Alan Steiner, who said a prayer for the deceased.
The parade then took a left down Fishkill Avenue and proceeded up toward the Mountain Avenue Cemetery. Here a number of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members demonstrated a three-volley salute, in which they fired three blank shots in honor of those who passed during wartime. The next stop was Nelsonville’s Church on the Hill, where Rev. Tim Greco read a Bible passage for the crowd before they continued on to the Vietnam memorial at the corner of Pearl and Main Street. At this site, Eddie Cleary, organizer at Chapel on the Hill, read a prayer for those who have lost their lives fighting overseas.
Finally, the community made it to the cemetery on Peekskill Road, the main stage of the morning’s festivities. The school band welcomed everyone with its rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Rev. Anthony Rourke of Our Lady of Loretto Church introduced the guest speaker of the day — Col. Maritza S. Ryan. Ryan has a rich history of serving the country, impressively being among the first women to graduate from West Point in 1982 and to serve as an academic department head. She is currently the head of the Department of Law at USMA and has earned the title chief of military justice. She also received the Women’s Achievement Award from the American Bar Association.
During her speech, she pushed listeners to recall the achievements of heroes, or those who have given their lives for something bigger than themselves, and marvel at their skill and courage. She stressed that we should ask ourselves, “How would they want us to remember them on this and every Memorial Day?” Listeners were urged to think of the friends and families of the deceased — in some cases their “battle buddies” — and consider how difficult it must be to return without a friend or comrade. She declared that we should be thankful and joyous that great citizens like those we are mourning ever existed, offering a refreshing view of the usually melancholy holiday.
Edward Engelbride then read the honor roll and everyone listened to the annual reading of the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by John McCrae.
Rev. Francis Geer of St. Philip’s Church in Garrison took the podium to give a story about his great aunt fainting during President Abraham Lincoln’s reading of the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln took notice of her and shook her hand, asking if she was all right. At the end of the story Geer urged others to come shake his hand, humorously saying, “Come shake the hand that shook the hand that shook the hand of Lincoln!” The Hudson Highlands Pipe Band closed the ceremony with “Amazing Grace.”
Haldane High School junior Jerome Famularo, who plays the piccolo in the band and helps Contini with conducting, found the Cold Spring Memorial Day parade to be unique from most others. “I think our parade is different because of the bagpipes. You don’t see that in a lot of other towns.” Famularo was most happy to witness all the spirit that the town displayed on Monday.
Photos by Michael Turton, unless indicated