Ethan Meyn keeps a black neckerchief his great-grandfather wore during World War I on his dresser as part of a military display.
The 15-year-old Bay Shore High School sophomore said the piece of Fred Clapp's Navy uniform helps him feel connected to Clapp, who died in 1987.
"I feel . . . closer to my great-grandfather, although I never knew him," said Meyn, who belongs to the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, a civilian youth leadership group with a division in Farmingdale.
Tuesday, Meyn marched as part of the corps' color guard during the Veterans Day parade in Babylon.
A pair of World War II veterans, Gabe Grenci, 87, of West Islip, and Marvin Freeman, 86, of West Babylon, both members of American Legion Post 94, served as grand marshals.
"I saw the world. A lot of people have to pay for it, I got it for free," said Freeman, a retired New York City firefighter who served in the Navy.
The American Legion and Village of Babylon sponsored the annual event, which drew hundreds of spectators.
Armen Enkababian, a Vietnam veteran and post commander, said he hopes youngsters will learn more about the sacrifices made by "millions of men and women who put aside their personal pursuits for our country and our way of life."
"They really need to understand it's just not a day off; not another day to go shopping," he said.
There are more than 131,000 veterans on Long Island, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Meyn, who wants to join the Marines, was pleased to see the public applauding the area's surviving veterans Tuesday.
Clapp was one of six of Meyn's relatives to serve in the two World Wars, Korea and Vietnam. One earned a Purple Heart during World War I, said Meyn's mother, Alice Towne-Meyn.
A year ago, Meyn's grandmother, Jane Clapp-Towne, 87, found the neckerchief in a keepsake box she inherited from her parents. She wrote her grandson a note telling him about it -- and about her father. "Now it is yours," she wrote.