By Carol P. Bartold, Senior Reporter
May 31, 2017: Overnight rain, an overcast Memorial Day morning, and the threat of more rain did nothing to stop Bronxville's 96th annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony.
Village officials decided to move the ceremony from the front lawn of The Bronxville School to the school auditorium. Villagers, visitors, and parade participants filled the auditorium to near capacity.
Bronxville High School vocal ensemble SHA!cappella sang "The Star Spangled Banner" to open the ceremony.
Grand Marshal Donald Gray, self-proclaimed "longest serving grand marshal" after receiving the honor last year only to have the parade rained out, led the parade from Leonard Morange Square through the downtown business district to the front lawn of The Bronxville School. "It's a real thrill to come up under the railroad underpass and enjoy the flag-waving enthusiastic cheering by friends and neighbors," he said.
A veteran U.S. Army artillery officer, Gray delineated his military heritage. His great-grandfather fought with the 22nd Virginia Infantry under the command of General George S. Patton, Sr., grandfather of World War II General George S. Patton. In January of 1942, Gray said, one month after the Pearl Harbor bombing, his father quit his job as a schoolteacher and, at age 35, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
Upon leaving the Army, Gray entered Harvard University to earn a master of business administration degree. He recalled arriving at Logan Airport and seeing people his age spitting on soldiers returning from tours of duty in Vietnam. "I'm happy to say times have changed," he said. "We as a nation may not agree as to engaging in some wars or the conduct of them, but our respect and admiration for the men and women who serve is unbounded."
Mayor Mary Marvin noted that the effort to honor servicemen and women takes a rightful place in the village's Memorial Day celebration so that those most deserving of gratitude are never taken for granted.
"I believe we can all benefit from emulating our veterans' public service," Marvin said. Many historians, she added, are correlating the peak of bipartisanship and the passage of significant, substantive legislation with the number of veterans in the United States Congress. Only 20 percent of current congressional members are veterans, compared with 80 percent until the late 1970s.
"I'm not saying that service to country is a prerequisite to being an effective legislator," Marvin said. "Rather, I would urge us to adopt some of our veterans' most positive character traits--an expansive worldview, good judgment under pressure, love of country over self, and the understanding that consensus is often needed to achieve the best course for America."
Trustee Anne W. Poorman read the list of Bronxville veterans who have died since Memorial Day 2015 while a solo piper played "Amazing Grace."
In his benedictory remarks, Father Peter McGeory, pastor of the Church of St. Joseph, reminded the audience that behind every fallen service member are a family and friends. "For them, every day is Memorial Day," he said. "Our prayer on this Memorial Day is that we will never forget our priceless gift of freedom."
To see photos of the parade and other Memorial Day Weekend festivities, click here.
To see additional photos of the dog parade, click here.
Pictured here (from top): Mayor Mary Marvin (L), Kathy Gray, and grand marshal Donald Gray; the three PTA chairs (L to R), Amy Korb, Betsy Putnam, and Linda Pagano; Donald Gray (center) with members of the Bronxville Police Department and Eastchester Fire Department.
Photos above and in Memorial Day Weekend festivities gallery by A. Warner and N. Bower
Additional photos of the dog parade in dog parade gallery by Quintin George