Great Neck honors those who served the country

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The Great Neck community gathered Friday for a Veterans Day parade that began at the Great Neck Alert fire house and concluded with a ceremony at the Wall of Remembrance honoring all who have served in the military.
The parade was led by Louise McCann, commander of the American Legion Charles A. Fowler Jr. Post 160, who served for 25 years in the Army.
She was joined by fellow veterans, elected officials, fire department members,   Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts.
The parade was also held in conjunction with the Gilliar-Norwill Veterans of Foreign Wars Post  372, the United States Merchant Marine Academy and the Great Neck Alert and Vigilant fire companies.
“Veterans Day is the one day of the year that we really set aside to honor all members of the armed forces,” McCann said.  “It’s not about sales or having a day off — the American Legion and VFW do what has to be done to honor our veterans.”
McCann enlisted in 1975, retired in 2004, and has led the parade for the past three years.
By law, the parade was held at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month, which was based  on World War I’s ending on Nov. 11 at the 11th hour in 1918.  The Wall of Remembrance is located at the north end of the Village Green.
“This is a way for fire departments and companies who volunteer to come out and honor the men and women of the military,” said Jimmy Neubert, Great Neck Alert Fire Company chief.
Cub Scout Pack 178, Boy Scout Troop 10 and Girl Scout troops marched in the parade with friends and family, and listened to the voices of military experience on the importance of Veterans Day.
“We’re here to honor everyone who served this nation since its founding, and for protecting the liberties and freedoms we enjoy,” said Rear Adm. James A. Helis, superintendent of the Merchant Marine Academy, who asked for all the veterans in attendance at the ceremony to raise their hands.  “We recognize and thank all of you.”
One of them was Larry Sheehan, commander of VFW Post 372, who served in the Vietnam War in U.S. Army transportation, and said he was proud to march alongside fellow veterans.
“It’s a day of remembrance for those who served, and for those who never made it home,” Sheehan said.
Helis served in the Army for 30 years and is a veteran of the Afghanistan War.
Elected officials in attendance included Nassau County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum, Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Lee Seeman and Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender.
“I’m here as an American, and we can’t thank our veterans enough,” Kaplan said.  “We owe them a great deal of gratitude, and we truly live in the best country on earth.”
Celender, whose father, Laurence Celender, served in World War II and the Korean War in the U.S. Navy, said,
“We have many veterans that live in the peninsula, and I’m just here to honor them and thank them for their service.”

By Michael Scro

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