Community members lined the streets with American flags, waving to more than 40 groups who participated in the festivities.
Prior to the parade, organizers held a ceremony at the American Legion at 107-15 Metropolitan Avenue.
“We remember that those who perished died on foreign lands to prevent the enemy from coming to our homes,” said Lieutenant Commander Michael Arcati, a co-grand marshal of the parade. “We remember the 1.1 million soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, airwomen and coast guard that died in the line of duty.”
Arcati recalled his time in service, stating that he was blessed to have survived a mortar fire attack on his unit that occurred within six hours of arriving in Iraq.
“A difference in a few meters and I wouldn’t be standing here,” he said. “I’m blessed. Unlike the 4,000 more service members who died in Iraq, I was able to come home and marry my wife, Delia.”
He also paid tribute to the Remsen’s, a family with Colonial roots, including participation in the Revolutionary War. Following the parade, organizers laid wreaths at Remsen Cemetery, near Trotting Course Lane and Alderton Street.
After his second tour in Africa, the Forest Hills community welcomed Arcati and his family as they moved into the neighborhood. In response to their hospitality, Arcati’s new mission is to help communities remember the veterans and those have lost their lives.
“It’s my generation’s turn to carry those flags, march down this road and lay those wreaths,” Arcati said.
His fellow grand marshal, Kew-Forest School’s Carla Jantos MacMullen, recognized the school’s alumni who have served in the country’s military over the years.
“The school remembers them and supported them during their service, and we have ways of honoring all veterans in the school setting,” she said. “It reminds young people of what it means to serve in the armed forces.”
On October 13, the Kew-Forest School will celebrate its centennial and its place in the history of Forest Hills.
“I’m a new resident in Forest Hills and already feel at home with the vibrant history of this area in Queens,” MacMullen said. “It’s really important that everyone remembers the reason for today.”
State Senator Joseph Addabbo said all veterans have one characteristic that connects them, and that’s the desire to serve and protect this country’s freedom.
“We are so appreciative of what they do and what they stand for,” Addabbo said.