Heritage and Tradition parade through the Bronx: Columbus Day 2004

15 Oct 2004 | Cpl. Beth Zimmerman

"It was a great day for a parade," said Sgt. Miguel Trujillo, a 30-year-old Taos, N.M., native from 6th Communication Battalion in Brooklyn who carried the National Flag during a parade in the Bronx Sunday. "Right when we started marching, the clouds all of a sudden cleared up," he said. "It was perfect weather."Marines from New York City led the 28th Annual Bronx County Columbus Day Parade Sunday in Morris Park, Bronx. They represented the Marine Corps for an enthusiastic Bronx community."The crowd's reaction was great," said Lance Cpl. Adam Soler, who also participated in the Color Guard from 6th Comm. "It was really motivating to hear their support."The Marines led the long procession of floats down Morris Park Avenue, and their highly visible location drew plenty of attention. Knowing this, recruiters from Recruiting Substations East and West Bronx set up a Marine Corps recruiting booth near the parade's reviewing stand to talk to potential future Marines."We had lots of people take photos with us and thank us," said Staff Sgt. Jeff Hess, the Staff Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of RSS West Bronx. "The community here really showed their support today."Staff Sgt. Marcos Rodriguez, SNCOIC of RSS East Bronx, agreed with Hess. "We saw so much patriotism," said Rodriguez. "Some of (the Bronx residents) even came up to us with tears in their eyes when they thanked us for what we do."The Marines realized they represented the rest of the Corps to those people. "While this is an important day for the Bronx community to celebrate their heritage," said Maj. J. J. Dill, Commanding Officer for Recruiting Station New York, "It's also a great time for them to remember the quality of today's generation, and that it's that generation that's stepping up to the plate to defend America."Behind the scenes of this year's parade was another Marine Corps presence-one that dates back to the start of the parade. According to the parade's executive director, Dextor Hendon, a World War II Marine named Rudy Macina deserves credit for making the annual parade such a big event. A Bronx native from Morris Park, Macina earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal during the war. He returned to Morris Park and gave the neighborhood an aura of espirit de Corps. "I was a sergeant on [Inspector-Instructor] duty in 1976," said Hendon, who served in the Corps for eight years. "Rudy got a retired Colonel to come in and paint a mural on the side of his building." Hendon said Macina paid for the painting with his own money. "He just loved the Marine Corps that much."The mural that the colonel painted almost 30 years ago depicted the raising of the American flag on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima in 1945. The building and the painting are both still intact on Williamsburg Road, across the street from the parade's reviewing stand.Macina died at the age of 70 in 1993. The intersection of Williamsburg Road and Esplanade, which is a couple blocks down the same road as Macina's decorated building, was renamed "Rudy Macina Peace Memorial Plaza" in 1999. Today, fellow former Marine Hendon continues to run the Columbus Day parade with similar Marine Corps motivation. Hendon's sons have also continued the Marine Corps tradition as well. His son Joseph served four years, and his younger son Andrew is scheduled to graduate from recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., in December."I told the recruiter," said Hendon with a smile, "between the three of us, we've almost got 20 years in service!"
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