Following the parade down Purchase Street, community members gathered on the Village Green in front of City Hall for a Memorial Day ceremony in remembrance of the 81 Rye veterans who lost their lives in battle. Those honored included veterans who died in World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and Korea.
The ceremony was led by members of American Legion Post 128. Commander Frederick de Barros offered opening remarks before local officials, including Rye Mayor Josh Cohn, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, NYS Senator Shelley Mayer, and NYS Assemblyman Steve Otis, spoke briefly.
Resurrection Middle School student Cash Berber recited the Gettysburg Address, and Rye High School student Karenna Chader read her winning essay from the John M. Kingery Memorial Day Essay Contest. The essay was inspired by the theme “What Memorial Day Means to Me.”
US Navy veteran and Rye resident Howard Heyel delivered a principal address, themed “Lest we Forget.” Heyel enlisted in the US Naval Reserves during his senior year at Rye High School and was rushed into active duty during the Vietnam War, serving as a second class electronics technician. Following his service, Heyel began a long career of service with American Legion where he has chaired various committees. Today, Heyel is the treasurer of the Westchester County American Legion.
Lifelong Rye resident and US Army veteran Jim Dianni was honored with the 2023 Rye American Legion Americanism Award. Dianni served in Vietnam before returning to Rye and beginning a 39-year career with the Rye Fire Department.
“[Jim] Dianni exemplifies the values of the American Legion Americanism Award,” de Barros said. “This award recognizes a citizen who is a living example the American Legion values of law and order, the raising of wholesome youth, an educated and law-abiding citizenship, and respectful observance of patriotic holidays and remembrances.”
Three Eagle Scouts — Brendon Kirk, Daniel Pellegrini, and Harrison Gelinas — were also each awarded with the American Legion Good Citizen Citation.
The ceremony, which had one of the largest crowds in recent memory, concluded with Terry McCartney reading the Roll of Honor. Each of the 81 Rye veterans who were lost in the line of duty were given a moment of recognition as McCartney announced the names individually.