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Rivertowns Turn Out En Masse to Honor Their Fallen Heroes

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May 30, 2023

By Barrett Seaman—

Memorial Day brings out the Small Village in small villages. So it was this last weekend in May as throngs lined the streets of Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, as elsewhere, for commemorative ceremonies and parades. To be sure, the heavy turnout benefitted from crystal clear weather as well as a spreading confidence that the pandemic had finally abated. But there also seemed to be a sense that the renewal of honors bestowed on those who gave their lives over the course of the nation’s 20th and 21st century wars offered a glimmer of hope that a country currently riven by cultural and political quarrels might yet find common ground.

The Color Guard in Irvington

Each village has its own iconic military standard bearer. Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow share the memory of the late Armando “Chick” Galella, who passed away two years ago at 100. Irvington saluted Jim Brennan, who died in March after serving the village for more than half a century and who presided over Memorial Day rituals as long as anyone could remember. Dobbs Ferry’s representative of men and women in uniform, Bill Florin, survives and was there served on the lawn in front of the high school to serve once again as Master of Ceremonies.

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Sailors visiting Dobbs Ferry from Fleet Week

Memorial Day 2023 coincided with the annual U.S. Navy Fleet Week, allowing dozens of active duty sailors and officers to supplement the uniformed veterans at various village events. Dobbs Ferry had the largest contingent among the rivertowns, with sailors and officers from the U.S.S. Wasp and the New York City Naval Reserve Center on hand.

Midway through the ceremony in Irvington, the village fire alarm blared out. With the entire volunteer force lined up in their dress blues across Main Street from the memorial plaza, a collective sense of apprehension emanated from the crowd. Then, half a dozen firefighters broke rank and raced up the hill to a fire truck that was poised to lead the parade. Sirens temporarily drowned out the speakers as the truck pulled out. Less than 15 minutes later, however, the men were back in line. The fire was out. Duty called and was answered.

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