Westchester Memorial Day events honor veterans, remember those lost

Marines from the 1st Battalion 9th Marines, based Marines from the 1st Battalion 9th Marines, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., march Sunday in the annual Hastings-on-Hudson Memorial Day parade. (May 27, 2012) Photo Credit: Nancy Siesel

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Mark Rigano, 11, and Steven Fernandez, 9, of the Tarrytown Young Marines, filled buns with hot dogs and hamburgers faster than a dozen grill men could cook them for more than 2,000 veterans and their family members attending the fifth annual Rye Playland Veteran and Service Member Appreciation Day.

Admission, parking and the barbecue were free for all veterans and active-duty service members.

The event draws more and more of Westchester County's approximately 39,000 veterans each year for a barbecue, discounts on rides and reunions with fellow service members.

"Any time you can get these guys together to talk over old stories, it's a good time," said Bob Foster of the Eastchester Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2285. "It's also good for the world to see what these guys have contributed."

Sunday's Memorial Day parades and celebrations throughout Westchester County brought out families bedecked in red, white and blue to honor the men and women who have served in every conflict from World War II to Afghanistan.

In Hastings-on-Hudson, the community lined downtown's ribbon-covered sidewalks, waving miniature plastic U.S. flags and shouting hello to neighbors and friends over the tunes of a Dixieland band.

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After the festivities, the community gathered, as did many across the country Sunday, for a solemn observance. "We are assembled here to express our sincere reverence," said Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Commander George Valko of Hastings-on-Hudson.

After prayer and speeches by public officials, veterans placed flowers in tribute to the lives of soldiers lost in battles for freedom. Then, three rifle shots echoed through the village streets.

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