By Celia Bernhardt | [email protected]
The Queens Veterans Day Parade took place on a chilly Sunday in Middle Village, with plenty of local groups marching down Metropolitan Avenue sporting red, white and blue.
Participants included Christ the King’s marching band, the NYPD marching band, Kiwanis of Glendale, Glendale Post 104 American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32, and more. The parade ended at Christ the King High School, where a ceremony honoring Veterans took place in the auditorium.
The parade’s Grand Marshall was Sgt. Brendan Gibbons, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served for over four years and is active in the Queens military community. At the ceremony, Jon Kablack, a member of the NYPD 104th Precinct Community Council and a disabled veteran, was awarded the Anthony G. Pace Patriot Award.
Several elected officials spoke at the ceremony, expressing their support, gratitude, and admiration for veterans. State Senator Joseph Addabbo said to the crowd that he believes “every day is Veterans Day.”
“Our veterans have not only served our country, but they continue to serve in our communities. They’re out there in the parades. They’re in our schools. They’re on our local community boards. They’re helping other veterans enhance their lives. And I thank them for each and every part of that—giving back, still,” Addabbo said. “But I also thank them personally for educating me as an elected official on what we still have to do as elected officials to help our veterans each and every day.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams spoke about his work in passing a law to prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of veteran status during his time in City Council. “During that process I heard the stories and felt the pain of veterans who lacked services and felt there was nowhere they could go, no one they could turn to,” Williams said.
State Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar also highlighted policy work, mentioning her ongoing efforts to render housing, higher education, and mental health care more accessible to veterans. She then argued for a broader cultural shift.
“We need to instill patriotism into our young people, and into our entire community. This auditorium should be filled,” Rajkumar said. “And I will not stop until the auditorium is packed. Everyone should be coming to honor our veterans.”
Borough President Donovan Richards also spoke, expressing his gratitude. “The reason that my colleagues can stand up here is because there is someone who went out to serve this country who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us,” he said.
Richards also announced some international travel plans.
“Tomorrow, I’ll be heading out to the Middle East,” Richards said. “And I was in Ukraine right before the war. That’s why I talk about ‘freedom isn’t free:’ we can look at history and look at what’s happening now, around the nation, around the world—and certainly, that should give us a deep understanding that we are blessed to be American citizens, no matter what the challenges are.”