American Legion Post #1424 Hosts Spectacular Memorial Day Kickoff

Mohamed Farghaly

American Legion Post #1424 Prepares for Vibrant Memorial Day Parade, Honoring Fallen Heroes and Embracing Community Spirit.


The annual Memorial Day kickoff party, hosted by the American Legion Continental Post #1424 on May 10 was a vibrant celebration featuring live music, delectable food, and raffles. At the event, parade sponsors were lauded, and esteemed community members were recognized by both their peers and local veterans. The occasion also marked the revelatory and celebratory announcement of the two grand marshals who will lead the upcoming parade later this month.

The Legion post, currently led by Commander Michael Arcati was established in 1946, the post’s annual parade stands as a testament to its enduring legacy, despite facing closure just five years ago due to dwindling participation. Thanks to the efforts of Vice Commander Pat Conley and his brother Joe Conley, along with previous leadership, the post was revived and modernized, embracing social media and community engagement to attract new members. Commander Arcati’s proactive approach, marked by personal outreach and event hosting, has revitalized the post’s presence.

“The primary purpose of the parade is to honor the fallen, those service members who died in service of the country,” Arcati said. “We also honor local heroes, that’s why today we’re going to honor our local civilian Grand Marshal, as well as our veteran Grand Marshal.”

Beyond fostering camaraderie among veterans, the Legion is dedicated to serving the community, exemplifying patriotism and honoring local heroes through initiatives like the annual parade, which pays tribute to fallen service members and celebrates local veterans, law enforcement, and first responders.

Retired US Army Major Michael C. Dunne, a devoted member of the American Legion post, sheds light on the meticulous planning behind the annual parade, a tradition ingrained in the community’s fabric.

With over a decade of involvement, Dunne emphasizes the extensive preparation involved, beginning months in advance and involving coordination with numerous participating groups. This year, as part of his responsibilities, he spearheads the organization of staging areas to accommodate the parade’s growing scale, illustrating the parade’s evolution over the years. Starting in front of the post on Metropolitan Avenue, the parade winds through the streets, culminating at the Remsen Family Cemetery, where Revolutionary War soldiers rest, symbolizing the parade’s profound historical significance.

“It’s extremely important because we’re here to celebrate and recognize Memorial Day, which is the day to honor the service members who gave their lives for this country,” Dunne said. “We’re doing this parade for them. Those of us who are veterans, some people mistakenly think that this is the parade for us. It’s not, it’s for everybody who was sent overseas, or sent on a mission and didn’t come back home.”

Mohamed Farghaly

Vietnam Veteran William Hartnett Honored as Grand Marshal for Memorial Day Parade, Emblematic of Sacrifice and Service.

William Hartnett, a distinguished Vietnam veteran and Veterans Grand Marshal of the parade, embodies the spirit of service and honor. Reflecting on his responsibilities during the parade, which include laying a wreath at the cemetery, Hartnett expresses deep gratitude for the opportunity to represent his fellow veterans. Born in Ireland in 1947, Hartnett immigrated to the United States at 14, later joining the Army and serving in Vietnam. After his military service, he pursued a career as an electrician, exemplifying the values of discipline and dedication instilled in him during his time in the Army. Hartnett’s commitment to his community and the American Legion is unwavering, recognizing the Legion’s vital role in providing support and camaraderie to veterans.

“My comrades here have elected me to be the Grand Marshal, I think it’s fantastic and I’m really honored by it,” Hartnett said.

As he looks forward to the parade, Hartnett emphasizes the importance of attracting younger generations to ensure the organization’s longevity, highlighting the Legion’s invaluable assistance to veterans in need and commending the dedication of its leaders in revitalizing the post.

“This Legion has  great people here, the American Legion is a great organization for anybody,” Hartnett said. “Our elected officials always show up for our parades, which I think it’s great. The Forest Hills community is a great community that shows up year after year in support.”

The second parade Grand Marshal honoree, Michael Reddy, a dedicated civilian, exemplifies a profound commitment to his community. His unwavering devotion has earned him the privilege of leading the parade alongside local veterans.

Mohamed Farghaly

Civilian Michael Reddy, a Beacon of Community Dedication, Named Grand Marshal Alongside Veterans for Memorial Day Parade.

 Reddy’s journey into this role began over a decade ago, as he witnessed the dwindling participation in the parade and the strain on its leadership. Motivated by a deep respect for the sacrifices of servicemen and women, Reddy stepped in to support the organization from the sidelines. Over the years, his involvement expanded, from assisting with parade logistics to caring for the Cemetery Park.

“I became involved because I am forever mindful of the sacrifices that all the men and women made to our country,” Reddy said. “And more particularly, the Memorial Day Parade is so important. It’s a solemn remembrance of those who died in the pursuit of my freedom, and my liberty.”

For Reddy, this commitment is a solemn duty, a tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and liberty. Reflecting on his own roots as a New York City native and the son of a Vietnam veteran, Reddy underscores the importance of honoring the memory of fallen heroes. He emphasizes that the existence and growth of such organizations and parades are essential reminders that freedom is not free, and that behind every celebration lies the profound sacrifice of those who served. Through his actions and words, Reddy embodies the spirit of remembrance and gratitude that defines Memorial Day.

“Many people’s love and enjoy the Memorial Day weekend at the barbecue. They have their big day, they have that extra day off. And it’s very important for the community, for the country at large to remember that freedom is not free, and liberty comes with a price,” Reddy said. “You have that freedom and that ability to celebrate at the beach and a barbecue out because there are men and women in this post and outside of it who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

The upcoming Memorial Day parade on May 26, led by the American Legion Continental Post #1424, promises to be a vibrant celebration, honoring fallen service members and local heroes alike. This year’s grand marshals, chosen with care, reflect the community’s deep commitment to remembrance and gratitude.

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