Watch CBS News

Long Island pauses for Memorial Day moments of silence after sirens blare and church bells ring

Long Island holds island-wide moment of silence for Memorial Day
Long Island holds island-wide moment of silence for Memorial Day 02:23

MINEOLA, N.Y. -- A Memorial Day tradition that started last year in Nassau County expanded Monday across Long Island. 

A unified moment of silence was observed after fire department sirens and church bells sounded. Organizers hope it becomes a more prominent national tradition. 

Parades march down Main Streets across the land on Memorial Day, including one in Mineola where flags waved as those in attendance reflected on the sacrifice behind American freedom.

"Think about my uncle that served in World War II and cousin that  served in Vietnam, and all the brave men and women that serve our country," one person said. 

"It's always important to remember those who fought so hard so we can be here," said another.

But for those who may not attend a parade, there's now a loud reminder of what the day is about. The unified moment of silence launched last year in Nassau and has since expanded across Suffolk.

For 50 seconds at noon and 6 p.m., sirens blare at all fire houses in every community and church bells toll. 

"When you hear the sirens or the church bells, please stop what you're doing, stand at attention until the siren stops, and think about or say a prayer about all those young people that gave their lives for us," Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said. 

Blakeman hopes it goes viral, like the way he saw traffic stops when Israel observes Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"I think it's a great idea. It causes people not to forget and remember," U.S. Army veteran Anthony Jackson said.

"It's become too much celebration and not enough remembering of what it's all about," said Vietnam veteran William Kavanagh.

"I think about what this day is really about, and that to remember those who have died," said Andrew Rustay.

Fifty seconds for the 50 states, twice during Memorial Day to give everyone a chance to participate and reflect on those who fought for our freedom and never came home. 

A national moment of remembrance was launched by Congress two decades ago. It's held at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day when Amtrak whistles sound and Major League Baseball pauses for a moment of silence. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.