Members of the Riverhead VFW Post 2476 marching in the 2019 Memorial Day parade. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead’s Memorial Day parade will be back this year.

The annual parade was canceled by the pandemic last year, though a wreath-laying ceremony at the World War I monument on West Main Street still took place.

The parade and ceremonies at several monuments around Downtown Riverhead will take place on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31.

The parade steps off at 9 a.m. on Osborn Avenue and continues to the World War I monument on the corner of Court and West Main streets, where the first ceremony is held. From there, participants proceed east on Main Street to East Avenue, and then north to St. John’s Cemetery, for a wreath-laying ceremony. Services and ceremonies follow at the Civil War monument in Riverhead Cemetery and at the War Memorial Monument at the Pulaski Street School.

“We’re very happy to be able to be able to have the parade back again this year,” said Commander Thomas Najdzion of the Van Rensselaer Skidmore Post No 2476.

Najdzion said the modified route — proceeding north on East Avenue instead of Roanoke Avenue, will allow the parade to pass many of the recently installed “Hometown Heroes” banners now being displayed on Main Street light poles. The banners depict images of local veterans, past and present, along with their names and branch of service.

“We want to show them off,” said Najdzion, who serves as chairman of the Riverhead Town Veterans Advisory Committee.

The event is organized by the Riverhead Combined Veterans Committee and typically features members of the Riverhead VFW and American Legion posts, the Riverhead High School NJROTC, the Riverhead High School marching band, Scout troops, volunteer fire departments and EMS and Riverhead Town officials. (Editor’s note: The high school marching band will not be participating in this year’s parade.)

Lt. Col. Louis DiLeo of Seaford plays taps at the conclusion of a Memorial Day ceremony at Calverton National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 2020. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Calverton National Cemetery

There won’t be any large public gatherings for Memorial Day ceremonies at any of the national cemeteries again this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Calverton National Cemetery said to commemorate Memorial Day 2021, the Avenue of Flags will be displayed throughout Calverton National Cemetery. The Avenue of Flags will remain on display throughout the cemetery until June 7, 2021.

Gravesite flag placement will take place on May 29 by pre-registered veteran service organizations, Scout units and families. Volunteers have been accepted in limited numbers and will be required adhere to CDC recommendations.

A wreath will be placed and taps will be played to honor the nation’s fallen heroes, followed by a moment of silence. This solemn ceremony will be posted on the cemetery’s social media sites.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is launching new features on the Veterans Legacy Memorial site this month that will allow friends, family, and fellow veterans to honor any veteran interred in a VA national cemetery with photos, documents, and longer length biographical sketches of their Veteran: []

Riverhead VFW Post Commander Tom Najdzion hoists the flag as the high school marching band plays the Star Spangled Banner at Memorial Day ceremonies in 2019. File photo: Denise Civiletti

History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember and honor the more than 1.3 million Americans who gave their lives in service to our nation since its birth in 1775.

Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

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