Valerie Bauman, Scott Eidler, David M. Schwartz, and Nicholas Spangler contributed to this story. It was written by Eidler.
Monday’s rain interrupted, moved or canceled a number of traditional Memorial Day parades around Long Island, but others forged on in the drizzle.
Parades and remembrance services were canceled from Westbury to Sound Beach, while events in Freeport and Rockville Centre moved indoors.
Freeport’s official parade was rained out, but that didn’t stop the Rev. Douglas R. Arcoleo of Our Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church from leading a group of about 30 school children and veterans down Merrick Road to the Freeport Memorial Library.
Wearing his black priest’s cassock and carrying a miniature American flag on his umbrella, Arcoleo led his small parade to the stone monument at the library that bore the names of some of the 150 village residents killed during military service.
The veterans, he’d said earlier, had endured years of mosquito-ridden swamps and lethal beach landings during their service — “far worse than a bit of rain.”
Arcoleo simply asked those assembled with him to “talk to God in whatever way you know how” before reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
“They did so much for us,” said Alia Nunge, 14, an eighth-grade student at J.W. Dodd Middle School, referring to Freeport’s fallen veterans. “We can risk a little bad weather for them.”
In Suffolk County, rain canceled the Memorial Day parades in Huntington and Stony Brook as well as a memorial service at Sound Beach Veterans Memorial Park.
Rockville Centre officials canceled Monday’s Memorial Day Parade because of the weather, but about 100 people turned out for an indoor ceremony honoring the nation’s fallen soldiers at the Rockville Centre Recreation Center.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) spoke briefly at the ceremony, sharing the story of the youthful awe he had for his grandfather, who had fought in World War II and was held as a prisoner of war by the Germans for 13 months.
“When he bailed out of his plane, he was shot when he landed on the ground,” Kaminsky said. “He had a bullet fragment in his leg that stayed there . . . and he used to let me feel it, and I would to tell him he was a hero. And he would say — and I’ll never forget this — ‘the real heroes are the ones who didn’t come home.’ ”
Hundreds of cadets from Freeport High School’s Navy Junior ROTC attended a service held in the school auditorium after the village parade was canceled.
With 263 members this year and 293 expected next year, the program is one of the largest of its kind on Long Island, said its commander, retired U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Donald R. Moore.
About 12 to 15 ROTC members are to join the military this year. Some are due in boot camp this summer.
“We have a different understanding of this day than most people in high school,” said senior Ethan Roache, 18, command master chief of the junior ROTC and an Army reservist who will report next month.
With Valerie Bauman, David M. Schwartz, and Nicholas Spangler