The Woodhaven Beat: Patriotism in Woodhaven

By Ed Wendell

There were quite a few good signs of patriotism around Woodhaven over the past few days, providing much-needed hope and encouragement in these divisive times.

Let’s start with something that happened last week at the Memorial to local soldiers from World War 2, which has sat at Forest Parkway and Jamaica Avenue for nearly 70 years. The flagpole’s pulley was broken; the flag was hanging from just one grommet, and it could not be raised or lowered anymore.
American Legion Post 118 attempted to fix it but it was apparent they needed outside help. In stepped the L.S. Sign Company in Ridgewood, whose owner Bernard Giarraputo is the son of a World War 2 Navy Vet.
They came with their truck to Woodhaven, fixed the pulley and raised the flag, free of charge. It was a wonderful act of generosity and patriotism and our community is grateful for their help and friendship.
Now, when American Legion Post 118 holds their annual Memorial Day Observance at Forest Parkway this Thursday May 23rd at 6:30 p.m., the American flag will be flying properly. We hope you will be there to see it.

The team from L.S. Sign Company in Ridgewood, who responded to a call for help from American Legion Post 118 and repaired the flagpole and pulley, free of charge, in time for the annual observance of memorial Day at Forest Parkway, which this year will happen on Thursday, May 23rd at 6:30 p.m.

One day after the flagpole was fixed, residents gathered in Forest Park, to decorate the Memorial Trees, which were planted in the aftermath of World War 1 in memory of the many young men lost in that brutal war.
Week after week, residents of Woodhaven nervously looked to the front page of the Leader-Observer to see, under the headline of Taps, the latest names of the dead. In all, 70 young men from Woodhaven left home to fight over there, never to return.
It was decided to plant oak trees in their names, along Forest Park Drive across from the old Golf Clubhouse (now known as Oak Ridge). And families would decorate the tree that was dedicated to their loved one each Decoration Day (as Memorial Day was formerly called). And for years, Woodhaven’s Memorial Day parade ended in Forest Park, amongst the Memorial Trees.
Over time, the tradition faded away and was largely forgotten. But in 2015, the tradition was revived and every year since then, residents have gathered in the park to decorate the trees that remain. It’s a good feeling, decorating the very same trees that residents from Woodhaven decorated over 100 years ago, linking two eras of our community together in a very special way.
And this year we were pleasantly surprised to see more than a dozen young oaks planted in place of those oaks who had been felled by time. Those new oaks have been adopted into the Memorial Tree Family and we hope the tradition of decorating them will continue for many more years to come.

Residents from Woodhaven who came out to decorate the Memorial Trees in Forest Park, a local tradition that dates back over 100 years. The oak trees along Forest Park Drive were planted in the aftermath of World War 1 to commemorate the lives of local men who went off to fight and never came home.

And the very next day, another long standing Woodhaven tradition made its annual return. American Legion Post 118’s Garden of Remembrance was again erected in their headquarters’ front yard on 89th Avenue and 91st Street.
Erected with fine precision by Franklin K. Lane’s Junior ROTC, led by Master Sergeant Eddie Carr, the Garden is a ‘cemetery in miniature’ as it used to be called when it started, sometime just after World War 2.
The post’s front yard is blanketed with markers commemorating not only those who were lost in battle, but also those who were members of the post and who are sadly no longer with us.
It will be in front of this beautiful tribute that American Legion Post 118 will observe Memorial Day on Monday, May 27th at 11 a.m. Afterwards, everyone is invited inside for refreshments and, again, we hope you will join us.

Members of Franklin K. Lane’s Junior ROTC, led by Master Sergeant Eddie Carr, erecting American Legion Post 118s Garden of Remembrance, a tribute to those who are no longer with us. It will be in front of this beautiful tribute that American Legion Post 118 will observe Memorial Day on Monday, May 27th at 11 a.m. Afterwards, everyone is invited inside for refreshments.

These are the traditions that unite us and bring us together, something sorely needed during a time when more and more people feel divided and apart from one another. It is a time when we come together to pledge our unity, not only to our flag and country, but also to each other.
It is a time where we need to embody the old saying “I may disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it” instead of declaring others to be your enemy because they disagree.
It is a time where we stand in front of a monument with the names of those who gave their lives in order for us to live freely in this great country we live in. Let us not have their sacrifices be in vain.

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