By Emily Drooby
Normally Raymond Aalbue would be preparing for the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade.
It’s “something that has been part of Brooklyn for so long,” he told Currents News.
As chairman of the parade committee, he’s in charge of the beloved tradition. Started back in 1867, it’s one of the oldest Memorial Day parades in the country. It originated on Eastern Parkway, but has called Bay Ridge, Brooklyn home for over 30 years.
This would have been the parade’s 153rd year. Raymond, who’s Catholic and a veteran, says they had to cancel because of the pandemic.
He explained, “We didn’t want to put anybody in jeopardy, we gather a crowd all along Third Avenue, people are packed together, we didn’t want to put them in harm’s way.”
So instead, the committee is in the process of trying to figure out a different way to commemorate the day.
“We are going to try to plan something for Monday, the plans haven’t been finalized yet,” explained Raymond.
They’re planning a drive-by to keep the tradition alive. However, it will be small and won’t include the public. Raymond says that shouldn’t deter people from commemorating Memorial Day on their own.
Currents News spoke with him outside of John Paul Jones Park in Bay Ridge, which is on the normal parade route. Just up the road at Coffey Square, two veterans were installing a patriotic tribute, red, white and blue bunting hung along the exterior of the Square’s fence.
“We are still doing the best we can with at least the minimum people and social distancing,” explained Frank Zapata, while working on the installation.
” I would like to think this is our small part in remembering,” added fellow vet John Cullen.
Robin Kelleher is the co-founder and CEO of Hope For the Warriors. The organization provides support to service members, veterans and their families. She was called upon to be the grand marshal for the 2020 parade.
Kelleher says that even though many people can’t leave their house right now, they can still honor those who lost their lives for the U.S.A.
“Memorial Day is now being time honored as a reflection day, because that’s all we have,” said Robin.
Adding reflecting and remembering is actually one the most important parts of the day, which Raymond agreed with.
“They just want to make sure that what they did wasn’t in vain, and that the men and women that were with them in the battle who didn’t come home, weren’t able to come home, were remembered,” he said.
The message is loud and clear. While the 2020 Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade might be cancelled for the public, remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country is still important.