Washingtonville Memorial Day Parade Honors WWII Sgt. John Hastings
By Eugenia Moskowitz
The sun shone in a brilliant blue sky on 36 civic and religious groups in Washingtonville at the village’s annual Memorial Day Parade last Monday. Participants honoring the country’s fallen service members marched from Washingtonville High School to Memorial Park, pausing briefly at the village’s main intersection for dance performances.
The parade, organized for the past three years by Rebecca Akers of the Washingtonville Community Events Council, was this year the largest it has been in decades as civic groups, religious organizations, local businesses, ambulance and fire services, and classic cars all wended their way through the village, watched over with streets safely closed by the ever-vigilant Washingtonville Police Department’s men in blue, including two bicycle police officers who brought up the rear of the parade. Blooming Grove Highway Superintendent, Wayne Kirkpatrick tossed candies to anyone who could catch them from the department’s huge truck. Samples of farm tractors from times gone, courtesy of the Orange County Farmers’ Museum, by rolled through town including one with a couple of roosters perched on top. They certainly looked real.
About three-quarters of the way along the route, the Orange County Ancient Order of Hibernians Pipe and Drum band stopped on Arrowpoint Lane to honor WWII Platoon Sergeant and Purple Heart Recipient John Hastings, who passed away on May 25 at the age of 96. Sgt. Hastings was a long time South Blooming Grove and Washingtonville resident who always stood saluting from the lawn outside his apartment on Arrowpoint as girl and cub scouts marching by ran over and showered him with flowers and little flags. Sgt. Hastings always greeted the children with a smile at elementary school veterans’ functions and had also served as the parade’s Grand Marshall. In his younger days he was a fine writer of short powerful stories about his experiences in battle and liberating a concentration camp, which were published weekly in the Orange County Post. The AOH stopped for a moment of silence at the spot where Sgt. Hastings always stood, did a final about-face, and played Amazing Grace. The Washingtonville community will miss him dearly.
CAPTION 1: WWII Platoon Sergeant John Hastings saluting the flag with his grandson and namesake on Arrowpoint Lane during a past Memorial Day Parade. Sgt. Hastings passed away on May 25 and was honored by the AOH this Memorial Day. (Photo provided)
CAPTIONS 2-8: (All photos by Toni Picone unless otherwise noted)