The third annual Queens Veterans Day Parade drew 800 local veterans and their supporters to Middle Village this past weekend to honor those who served in the Vietnam War.
Veterans from the Vietnam Veterans of America, Queens Chapter 32 and the North Shore Marine Corps League were joined by several community leaders and organizations on Sunday, November 6 for a parade and ceremony at Christ the King High School.
During the only Veterans Day parade in Queens, the community cheered on their Vietnam War vets, some of whom recall the criticism at home for serving in the then very unpopular war.
“It was great to be appreciated, but look how long it took,” said Pastor Toro, Jr., of Ridgewood, who was honored as one of the Grand Marshalls and is the president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Queens Chapter 32. “I am standing up here for all the Vietnam War veterans. We have their backs.”
The ceremony capped the afternoon parade that had various groups march 10 blocks from Metropolitan Avenue and 79th Place to the high school.
School groups such as the Sunnyside Drum Corp. and the Sacred Heart Twirlers and many more supporters joined the Queens veteran groups as they marched. Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley and Peter Vallone Jr. were also on hand to salute the veterans at the parade.
David Hills, a Marine from Forest Hills, stood on the sidelines with his wife, cheering on the classic cars, bag pipe music and his comrades who marched in the parade.
“It’s the biggest parade I’ve ever seen. It’s very nice,” said Hills, who is a member of the North Shore Marine Corps. As he watched, a committee member thanked him for his service with a handshake.
“It’s terrific,” he said of the acknowledgment. “We really appreciate it when they say that.”
The annual Queens Veterans Day Parade started three years ago out of a need from the community to salute their troops closer to home.
The parade was sponsored by the Catholic War Veterans Post 1172, Middle Village Chamber of Commerce and the Middle Village Property Owners and Residents Association.