Memorial Day 2024: Meaning, Events, Remembering “Mr. Memorial Day”

Local Veterans at the Ceremony following the 2023 Syosset Memorial Day Parade

A guide to Memorial Day 2024. Above, local veterans honoring Memorial Day following the 2023 parade in Syosset

In Honor of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a time of solemn remembrance, where those who served 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 care and 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. Here’s another at History.com.

Find information on the National Memorial Day Concert, share your remembrances and read others’ on PBS. 

Honoring those lost to war is a practice older than time. Even in its modern form, people still have a hard time tracing the origin of Memorial Day. We know the concept of an annual day of remembrance began to take widespread root in the United States following the Civil War. While many communities likely came together independently to honor their dead, Waterloo, NY was declared the official birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. New York was also the first state to officially recognize it as a holiday in 1873. The last Monday in May finally became a uniform day of remembrance across the nation in 1971.

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 2024 Events Across Long Island.

The Bethpage Air Show is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. They are pleased to welcome back the United States Navy Blue Angels

On News12 Long Island, Kur Sender and New 12 Staff have a piece titled US Marines land at Walt Whitman High School as part of Memorial Day weekend celebration. In Patch.com, Jade Eckardt has an article on the Long Island Ducks’ Memorial Day weekend series. In the Syosset Advance, Rikki Massand offers a detailed review in “Syosset Chamber discusses Memorial Day, upcoming events.” We encourage you to check out your own hyperlocal paper to see what’s happening in your hamlet.

 In Newsday, Gina Taburas offers a simple, informative listing of parades, ceremonies and other Memorial Day events in Amityville, Babylon Village, Baldwin, Bayport, Bayville, Bellport, Bethpage, Bohemia, Brentwood, Brookhaven, Cedarhurst-Lawrence, Calverton and Center Moriches, Centerport, a mass in Central Islip, events in Commack and Commack/Elwood, Copaigue, a mass in Coram, East Meadow, East Northport, East Norwich, East Rockaway, Elmont, Farmingdale, Floral Park, Franklin Square, Freeport, Garden City, Great Neck, Halesite, Hicksville, multiple events in Huntington, Kings Park, Lake Ronkonkoma, Levittown, Lindenhurst, Little Neck/Douglaston, the Long Beach “City Manager’s 10-Mile Race to Remember”, Manhasset, Massapequa Park, Mastic Beach, Melville, Merrick, Mineola, Northport, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Port Washington, Rocky Point’s “PFC Joseph P. Dwyer PTSD Memorial 5K Run” as well as it’s parade, Rockville Centre, Sayville, Seaford, Smithtown, Sound Beach, Southampton, St. James, Syosset, the Bethpage Air Show as well as the parade in Wantagh,  West Babylon, West Hempstead, a mass in Westbury, Williston Park, and Yaphank (there is a paywall. Please support local journalism)

NEWS12 Guide: Memorial Day Parades on Long Island has info on Elwood/Commack, Garden City, Hempstead, Island Park, Little Neck-Douglaston, Long Beach, Massapequa, Merrick, Mineola, Plainview, Smithtown, as well as Weekend Airshow Cruises. They will still accept event submissions by email (please include location, date, time and relevant links) and invite you to share your Memorial Day weekend pictures.

Discover Long Island offers a whole range of tourist attractions including The Bethpage  Air Show, Discover Long Island offers related tourist attractions, including the Old Bethpage Village Restoration’s Decoration Day, Oyster Bay’s parade and tour if its Raynham Hall, Fireworks in Port Washington, a carnival in Mattituck, a 7-mile guided bike tour with the Southampton History Museum, “Side by Side: A Celebration of Service 2022 at UBS Arena, featuring John Legend and Jason Derulo, as well as other local attractions, and more.

Memorial Day Events Listed on the Long Island Press Include information on the Bethpage Air Show, The Village of Babylon, Cedarhurst-Lawrence, East Meadow, Elmont, Holbrook, Levittown, the “Long Island Feel Week NAVY Helicopter Landing,” in Eisenhower Park, Lindenhurst, Little Neck-Douglaston, Long Beach, Plainview/Old Bethpage, Massapequa, Mineola, Southampton.

Mommy Poppins has great events for kids, including  The Bethpage Air Show, North Hempstead’s Memorial Day Fireworks, the Navy Helicopter Landing at Eisenhower Park, a Family Tour & Workshop at Guild Hall, as well as parades in Long Beach, Farmingdale, and Northport, as well as a variety of gateway to summer fun events.

New York Family has a range of events focused around NYC, including some LI and other events. 

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. He wrote that article with me when he was well into his 90s. 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 them.

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. He brought light and life to all he encountered, even when we was reminding us of the importance of Memorial Day.
 

Gus had a way of saying things that seemed simple at first; things that would then reverberate with deeper meaning as time passed. I will never forget his face when I asked if he’d like me to read the final copy of his article 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 his room in the local nursing home, where he was living with his wife Fran (another Syosset treasure). Having heard a final phone conversation, 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.

When the parade returned in 2022, the community honored Gus by declaring there would be no Grand Marshal of Syosset’s Memorial Day Parade. They also renamed Underhill Boulevard in his honor, as well as the specific spot on the corner where he led so many moving ceremonies. His beloved VFW, Post 6394 in Syosset, is now The Gus Scutari Post. We suspect that, given the opportunity, Gus would make it clear that the Eugene S. Smith American Legion Post 135 was also very important to him, but is already named after a notable veteran.

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 this weekend.

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