Veterans Day Parade to honor dedication, service

Grand Marshal] Joseph Goonan at the American Legion's national convention in Phoenix, Arizona, in late August.
Photo courtesy Joseph Goonan

Veterans of all eras will be honored at the 37th Throggs Neck Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 14.

The event will kick off at 12 p.m. from Lafayette and Tremont avenues, turn left onto Randall Avenue, then stop at the Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park, for a ceremony.

Joseph Goonan, a 77-year-old Bronxite, was chosen to be the grand marshal this year. He was born and raised in Parkchester, going through the St. Helena school system before ending up in City Island, where he has lived for the past 56 years.

“I’m a product of the Bronx,” he said.

Across 34 years, Goonan served in both the U.S. Navy from 1961-1965 and Army Reserve from 1976-2005, retiring as a chief warrant officer 4.

Goonan, a retired award-winning NYPD detective, is an active member of the Leonard H. Hawkins American Legion Post 156, where he has held various leadership positions. He is also involved with the organization on the state and federal levels. The veteran has made himself a familiar face on City Island, working with Boy Scouts, Little League and the Council of Leaders of Neighborhood Youth, a volunteer group that applied for funding to distribute to local youth organizations.

“From the committee perspective, we were very impressed with his qualifications,” said parade co-chair Ron Watson, a retired lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps who served 22 years on active duty.

Goonan, who hopes for great weather on Nov. 14 to attract a big turnout, wishes more people had a connection to the military. “We all write a blank check for that service,” he said. “Up to and including our lives.”

That being said, Goonan is looking forward to marching with fellow veterans, and for them to be recognized by the Bronx community, regardless of how much time they served. “A veteran should be recognized for their service, and not necessarily just on Veterans Day,” he said.

“Serving in the military is an honorable profession,” Watson said. “And as such, the American citizen is honor-bound to recognize those veterans that raise their right hand to serve in the U.S. military for a noble cause. And sometimes that cause is unpopular, but veterans, they salute sharply. And they conduct their mission, and that’s what we recognize on Veterans Day.”

Watson said politicians tend to emphasize the impacts of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when talking about veterans, and wishes there was more discussion around the skillsets veterans bring to the civilian workforce.

“Military veterans, regardless of rank, offer tremendous value to the workforce,” he said. ” … If you’re hiring a vet you’re hiring a great American, someone that’s smart, that’s enthused, that will work hard, that will have a sense of urgency to accomplish the mission.”

Goonan agreed, and also pointed to healthcare for aging veterans, like those who served in World War II and the Korean War, and high rates of suicide, as key issues for veterans. He believes there both needs to be more resources for veterans at risk of committing suicide, and a better understanding of existing resources and warning signs. He pointed to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), American Legion and suicide prevention hotlines as sources of support.

“Too often, we think of being able to control our emotions and handle heartache as a badge of courage,” Watson added, saying it’s important to remove stigmas surrounding getting help.

He emphasized that there is work being done to help solve the crisis among veterans, like counseling, removal of guns, education and early intervention.

At the ceremony, 10 honorary marshals will be commemorated, and two living World War II veterans, Pvt. Anthony DiBartolo and Pvt. 1st Class Michael Morgan, will be honored.

Reach Aliya Schneider at aschneider@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.

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