Bronx veterans marched down Southern Boulevard in Crotona Park East on Friday, September 27 as part of a parade honoring those who served this country, and who now live right here in the borough.
The event, the Bronx Veterans Parade Committee (BVPC) parade, soldiered on in style for the sixth straight year.
The BVPC parade —not to be confused with the Bronx Veterans’ Day Parade, which will step off for the 29th time in November —kicked off at 11 a.m at E. 175th street and Crotona Parkway.
The group worked its way along Southern Boulevard to E. 180th street and took a right turn to The Old West Farms Soldiers Cemetery on Bryant Avenue, where a memorial service was held.
The parade wrapped up as usual with a barbeque in Vidalia Park between Vyse and Daly avenues.
“It did turn out to be a success,” said Delores Steele, chairperson of the BVPC. “The community allowed us to be on Southern Boulevard for the first time, and that went well.”
The event is designed to raise community awareness and funding for veterans in need of help.
Steele founded BVPC in 2008 after watching her father, a veteran, struggle with drug addiction and homelessness.
Steele formed BVPC through the Gethsemane Baptist Church on Fairmount Place and has organized the parade with support from Community Board 6 and local politicians ever since.
The memorial service was, as always, an emotional moment, Steele said. Wreaths and American flags adorned the headstones of fallen soldiers from four different wars.
The cemetery itself is nearly 200 years old and memorializes soldiers dating as far back as the War of 1812, which pitted the U.S. against Great Britain in a 32-month conflict that tackled unresolved issues from the American Revolution.
The cemetery also includes graves from the Civil War and the Spanish-American war that took place in Cuba and Puerto Rico for ten weeks in 1898, sparked by the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor. There are also headstones from World War I.
The veterans were joined by a slew of area politicians who paraded with them, including Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, State Senator Ruth Hassell Thompson and Senator Ruben Diaz.
The fundraising for the event totaled about $5000, Steele said. Members of the community also donated hot dogs and burgers as well as utensils and cooking supplies to the afternoon barbeque, she said.
The food was well received, said Gregory Phillips, who served in Vietnam and is now treasurer of the BVPC.
“The cookout was outstanding,” said Phillips. “I love feeding the community.”