Speaking at a Memorial Day ceremony Monday morning in Bellmore, Eagle Scout Timothy Messmer read a long list of names aloud.
Each name belonged to a veteran who had served his country, stretching as far back to the Civil War to present day. Each one also was a member of Messmer's family.
The Merrick resident and member of North Bellmore's Troop 577 was given the honor of speaking at the ceremony, one of many across Long Island today, because of his service. For his recent Eagle Scout project, Messmer, 17, raised $4,375, which he used to renovate the interior of VFW Post 2770 on Bedford Avenue in Bellmore.
Messmer said it was his way to show appreciation for the sacrifices of veterans and fallen soldiers.
"It is because of our veterans that we live in the greatest country on this Earth," Messmer said. "Without them, we wouldn't be here."
During the ceremony, each community group, including the VFW and Boy Scouts placed memorial wreaths inside Bellmore Memorial Park. A parade kicked off shortly after on Bedford Avenue.
At the same time, Massapequa Park residents began marching down Broadway. As the parade parade hit Park Boulevard, 4-year-old Robert Justin Hannigan sprang from his seat and saluted a group of veterans who passed by.
It was the young Massapequa Park resident's first Memorial Day parade.
"It's extremely important that our kids know our history, know what this day is about, and know of our heroes that died for us," said Robert's mother, Maureen Hannigan, 29.
She said her son's great grandfathers -- Robert Mullaly and John Hannigan --were WWII veterans, and last weekend the family attended a WWII historical reenactment at Old Bethpage Village Restoration.
"I think he gets it," she said of her son. "As he gets older, he will learn more."
Teaching the significance of Memorial Day to younger generations was a point local officials stressed during Babylon Village's Memorial Day ceremony, which followed a parade throughout the community.
Army veteran Ed Giles, 79, of North Babylon, rode in the parade and handed out American flags to children along the route.
"Those veterans gave their lives for our country," Giles said. "You have to show your respect, your support and remember them."