Riverhead honored its fallen soldiers Monday morning in a parade from Pulaski Street School to downtown and back, stopping at St. John’s R.C. Church, at the Riverhead Cemetery and at St. Isidore’s Cemetery.
Veterans from recent wars back to World War II joined scout troops, the Riverhead High School marching band and NJROTC, Civil War re-enactors and World War I-era vehicles in the parade, which concluded in a ceremony at the World War II memorial in front of Pulaski Street School.
Town Supervisor Sean Walter gave the keynote address. Mr. Walter said he considered his speech a history lesson for young folks and quoted John Adams and the Declaration of Independence in his remarks.
“Our rights come from God above,” he said. “We will always be the greatest country in the world.”
Mr. Walter asked attendees to remember Van T. Barfoot, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient whose homeowners association in Virginia had balked at letting him fly an American flag from a 20-foot tall flagpole in front of his house.
Mr. Barfoot had served in Italy during the war, where, as a Sergeant in Carano in 1944, he made his way through a minefield, taking out three enemy positions, then captured 17 POWs and destroyed tanks that were sent to re-take the enemy positions.
After national media attention, the homeowners association agreed to let him keep his flag.
Mr. Walter urged Riverhead residents to take Mr. Barfoot’s lead and “stand up and do something.”
Sister Linda Joseph, principal of St. Isadore’s School, gave the invocation at the ceremony.
She urged attendees to join in sacred remembrance of those who were lost in the country’s battles, and to work for peace, justice, and hope for the world.
She urged attendees to avoid the “overbearing pride of false and narrow patriotism” and to be more compassionate and giving in their daily lives.
“Let peace come in one thousand tongues,” she said.