By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Abraham Loe McNatt, Fleet Week New York Public Affairs
NEW YORK (NNS) -- Service members marched in the Village of Larchmont Memorial Day Parade as part of Fleet Week New York, May 21.
Marines and Sailors attached to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 (VMM-264) and U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen participated in the town's annual parade.
"It's tremendous, you can really see how much pride our Sailors and Marines have in their service," said Anne McAndrews, the town's mayor. "The little guys are thrilled to see real Marines and real Sailors marching down their street. Their presence here really brings home what Memorial Day is meant to be."
The service members also participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the town's World War I and II memorial.
"It was a great honor to be able to represent the Navy outside of the academy and be able to foster excitement with the kids that were so excited to see us during the parade," said Midshipman 3rd Class Rachel Fortner. "We had a blast getting the veterans that hosted us and it was really powerful to see the support that the town had for the military."
Following the parade and wreath-laying ceremony, the local American Legion hosted service members for a barbecue dinner.
"It gives me so much pride in being a veteran to be hosting these men and women at our table," said Al Bender, the commander of the American Legion Post 345. "Navy, Marines - I love 'em. Thank God we are able to recognize service members from all branches of the military for their service and sacrifice."
Laughter and cheers filled the small American Legion hall as service members and veterans spent more than two hours exchanging stories and getting to know each other.
"I really enjoyed seeing and interacting with the kids during the parade," said Lance Cpl. Tim Santangelo. "It was also a great and motivating experience to speaking with veterans who have served before us and hear their stories."
Fleet Week New York, now in its 27th year, is the city's time-honored celebration of the sea services. The weeklong celebration is an unparalleled opportunity for the citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness firsthand the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.