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Bay Ridge community salutes thousands who gave their lives at 156-year-old Memorial Day parade

Bay Ridge salutes thousands at century-old Memorial Day parade
Bay Ridge salutes thousands at century-old Memorial Day parade 02:22

NEW YORK -- A solemn Memorial Day tribute in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn paid respects to thousands of Americans who died in service to our country. 

Veterans, civic groups, schools and marching bands paraded along 3rd Avenue toward the Verrazzano Bridge where a service was held to thank those who gave their lives. 

"It's sad that people had to die for our freedom, but in a sense we had to do that for our values to exist," said Tom Guyette. 

For many, attending the parade is a family tradition. 

"Every year since she's been in a stroller," said Daniella Sarkis. 

"I think it's a great way to honor everyone who served in our armies and who fought for us," said Delilah Sarkis. 

The parade is a Brooklyn tradition since 1867. It's considered to be the oldest continuously run Memorial Day parade in a large city in the nation.

"Veterans from the Grand Army of the Republic, active soldiers and Brooklyn residents in Kings County held the first Memorial Day parade on Eastern Parkway, and here we are today," said Ray Aalbue, parade chairman. 

The parade was moved to Bay Ridge because of its proximity to the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton, the only active-duty military installation in New York City. 

"This morning we saw Ukraine on the news and those poor people are fighting to get what we have," said Particia Guyette. 

Many remembered their years of service, friends and colleagues. 

"I went to the Army, to the reserve, then to the National Guard, and then to the state guard before I retired," said David Brown, president of 715 Veteran's Association.

"And that's why we're here to celebrate for those who gave their yesterday for our todays," said U.S. Navy veteran Bruce Copney. 

And the sacrifices we often take for granted. 

"It takes all of these young men, women out here that serve to keep this country free," said U.S. Army veteran Michael Drummond. 

Overlooking the water and within earshot of active servicemembers, there was a 21-gun salute. 

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