Memorial Day 2023: Meaning, Events, Remembering Gus

Images of Veterans, scouts and others at the 2022 Syosset Memorial Day Parade

Local students sing “God Bless America” at the ceremony following the 2022 Syosset Memorial Day Parade.

In Honor of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a time of solemn remembrance where veterans and those who care for them come together to honor those who died in service to our country.

Please do not wish a veteran a happy Memorial Day. Instead, perhaps, offer that person space to reflect, an intention of quiet comfort, a willingness to go with them wherever they need. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer a little light and levity – I’ve had more than one tell me the children and the barbecues are as important as the parades, because these are what they would fight to preserve — but it does mean you should do so with respect.

It’s also a good time for the rest of us to engage in personal reflection; to think about the responsibility we have as citizens to do what we can to ensure that those who offer so much to “US” – their very freedom at the very least — are treated well, and that we give it our best to be a nation somehow worthy of such sacrifice.

Here are facts and traditions from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, including why the Poppy is so important not only as a symbol of those who were lost, but of hope and healing as well.

People have a hard time tracing the origin of this day. I personally believe that’s because it’s a practice as old as time. While fighting for what we believe in is fundamental to the human spirit, honoring those lost is still a far more human activity than experiencing the horrors of war.

Festive marchers with red white and blue balloons at the 2018 Syosset Memorial Day Parade
Festive marchers with red white and blue balloons at the 2018 Syosset Memorial Day Parade

Memorial Day 2023 Events Across Long Island.

Long Island Memorial Day Parades and Events 2023 by Jack Chinsky in the LI Press: Where and when for over 20 parades and events across Nassau and Suffolk Counties, including the Bethpage Air Show.

2023 LI Memorial Day Weekend Events: Parades, Ceremonies. This Patch catch-all by Maureen Mullarkey has links to more local Patch articles focusing specifically on events in hamlets across Long Island, as well as some history of the day of remembrance itself. It also notes the “National Moment of Remembrance” that will occur at 3pm on Memorial Day:

She’s also got a piece on lighter activities in LI Weekend Events: Memorial Day Weekend, Baby Animals, Town Carnivals

40+ Memorial Day Weekend Events on Long Island by Lynn Petry for Newsday (paywall): This ranges from Memorial Day remembrances not noted in the other two articles, to festivals, fairs and other things to do on this weekend at the gateway of summer.

Here’s a national review of 2023 Memorial Day Events by Tiffany Theisen for

Remembering "Mr. Memorial Day," Costantino "Gus" Scutari

Every year….ok…well…more often than that….I reread this story I wrote with “Mr. Memorial Day,” the “Americanism Chairman of Nassau County,” dear treasure of a soul: Gus Scutari.

Gus survived a Kamakazi attack during World War II. Anyone who knew Gus will tell you that while this entire chapter of his life involved profound stories, it was the least of what made him very, very special.

In 2022, in honor of this man who brought such light and life to the Syosset Community and well beyond, there was no Grand Marshal of Syosset’s Memorial Day Parade. They also renamed Underhill Boulevard and the specific spot on the corner where he led so many moving ceremonies in his honor,

Gus had a way of saying things that seemed simple at first; things that would then reverberate with deeper meaning as time passed on. He wrote this article with me well into his 90’s. He would be over 100 now. They were certainly words of wisdom — I don’t think I will ever fail to get something new out of reading them.

I will never forget his face when I asked if he’d like me to read the final copy aloud to him. He saw me realize I’d probably insulted him, and then smiled. He took the draft from me, proofread the whole thing carefully, and then offered a final comment or two, making sure everything was just right.

In 2019, Gus organized the Syosset parade from the room in the local nursing home where he was living with his wife Fran (another Syosset treasure). I am just about certain that if it weren’t for the parade being cancelled due to COVID, he’d still be here with us making final preparations for it now.

Gus wanted us to remember that Memorial Day is about people who gave EVERYTHING for their country. He also wanted us to always remember that this is OUR country, that we should honor that and always remember that it will only ever be as good as we will make it. 

Through the parade, and really through every interaction he had with anyone he happened to meet, Gus endeavored to bring people together as Americans. He encouraged us all to give it our best to be good citizens; To think, to honor, to smile…to be the kind of people worthy of those folks who will give everything to defend them.

Gus never wanted Memorial Day to be about him, though on some level it always was. I suspect it will probably continue to be so in Syosset, at least for a little while. That’s ok. So much of what he was about was apropos of everything.

Still, I will try to get this all out of my system today and tomorrow and then focus where he wanted me to come Monday.

May God bless America. May God bless everyone. May we give it our best such that none of this ever be in vain.

Veterans in Syosset assemble for the 2018 Memorial Day Parade
Veterans in Syosset commence the 2018 Memorial Day Parade