By Shirley Ng, AsAmNews Staff Writer
As many headed for the beach or held a backyard barbecue, a parade in Chinatown to honor the fallen men and women during their military service took center stage.
Chinatown’s Memorial Day Parade has been blessed with sunny skies for many years. This year’s parade started at 12:30pm on Mott Street.
Almost all of the veterans of the American Legion Lt. Kimlau Post 1291, are Chinese Americans. They marched towards Kimlau Square for a ceremony and wreath-laying. These veteran members were mostly in their 80s, but there were some younger members and a few remaining members are in their 90s if they are able to attend and withstand the heat.
Marching behind them were supportive family members of The Sons of the American Legion and The American Legion Auxiliary.
Commander Randall Eng of American Legion Lt. Kimlau Post 1291 said to the crowd, “It’s auspicious for many reasons, and that is we as a group have assembled here in order to pay tribute, honor and respect to our fallen comrades, past and present.”
Eng also spoke about the current threat to American children, a reference to the recent Ulvade, Texas school shooting and asks Congress to do more to protect them, and as the city is looking to close two area VA hospitals, Eng said mental health services for veterans are needed and must continue.
New York State Senator, Brian Kavanagh attended the ceremony and spoke about advocating to keep the VA hospitals open.
“I think it’s really important, that not just one day a year, but every single day of the year that we remember the people that sacrifice everything to keep that dream alive, ” said District 1 Councilman Christopher Marte during the ceremony.
District 25 Assemblymember, Yuh-Line Niou spoke about how Asian Americans were denied civil rights yet still served the country with honor.
“When the American Legion was formed, it was while The Chinese Exclusion was still in effect. There is a boundless love of our community for this country and there is a boundless amount of sacrifice that our community has given for our country,” she said.
“Even when we were not given the right to vote, to own property, to have a mortgage, to marry, we were still willing to fight for our country. So, it is incredible that even in this moment with so much anti-Asian sentiment, which we know that it is not new, and still to this day, we express that love for our country. “
The ceremony ended with the laying of two wreaths under the Kimlau Memorial Arch, which honors the veterans of Chinese ancestry.. The arch was named as one of the city’s landmarks last summer and will be receiving funding from the state to restore the aging monument.
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