This Memorial Day Arthur Howard, 94, donned his military gear and gathered with friends from the Jewish War Veterans Post #191 just as he has for the past 20 years. Howard, a former White Plains High School biology teacher, said hes always found a sense of camaraderie at the annual White Plains Memorial Day parade.
Memorial Day is important because we had great involvement during World War II, said Howard, who served in a transportation unit that unloaded ships in North Africa and then transferred into a medical corps unit that fought malaria in Italy. We had 14 million people at that time and therere very few left now.
Thirty-five local marine divisions, veterans groups, and White Plains community organizations clustered in front of the library Monday morning. After three bands warmed up and flags had saturated the crowd, Maj. Vincent Heintz ushered the parade across Main Street, up North Broadway and through the gates of the Rural Cemetery for a memorial ceremony at the foot of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
Heintz, 43, said he was tremendously honored to be the parades grand marshal and help White Plains remember those who have served in the armed forces.
We have to be careful not to take advantage of the quality of life that we have in this country and how free we are, said Heintz, who lives in Mount Vernon. When I came back from Afghanistan it was amazing to be able to turn on the faucet and have clean water and to have police who work for us and not a gangster. We dont have this by accident. We have it because from time to time Americans have answered the call to defend our country.
Milton Hoffman, a former senior editor at the Journal, said celebrating Memorial Day has become more critical since the Armistice Day parade has faded out of White Plains schedule.
They had Civil War battles here and so White Plains has always been very patriotic, said Hoffman, 82, who has marched with the Jewish War Veterans since he returned from World War II.
The Jewish War Veterans marched before the other veterans organization in this years procession, however, which organization leads the parade varies from year to year.
The Jewish War Veterans is the oldest veterans organization in the country, according to White Plains members, who said the organization was formed after the Spanish-American War to counteract stereotypes about Jews not serving in the armed forces.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.