By Michael Horowitz
BRONX, NEW YORK, June 1- Emily Toro, the mother of a fallen hero in the second Iraq war, was on hand, Sunday, to add poignancy to Co-op City's Memorial Day observance at the Veterans' Memorial Park on Bartow Avenue.
Among the local dignitaries joining Sunday's local observance of Memorial Day were Rep. Eliot Engel, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, and Community Board 10 District Manager Kenneth Kearns.
Toro, who became as Gold Star Mother after her son, Private Isaac Cortes, was killed in Iraq in 2007, said that she really did not understand the importance of taking time out to observe Memorial Day until her son was killed at the age of 26.
Toro, commenting after Sunday's observance, said that her son, who grew up in Parkchester, was killed as a soldier in the Army's 110th Mountain Division.
“My son, who had worked as a security guard at Yankee Stadium, saw joining the Army as his path to joining the New York Police Department,” Toro noted.
Along the way, Toro pointed out, the Army nurtured a sense of patriotism in her son that burned deeply within him at the time he was killed.
Lirio, for his part, said, after Sunday's Memorial Day observance, that he is extremely proud of his daughter, Capt. Jasmin Lirio, 29, a career military officer who previously served in the second Iraq as a platoon commander.
In his remarks at Sunday's local observance of Memorial Day, Assemblyman Benedetto stressed that those who have served in the military throughout the nation's history deserve special praise for answering the call of duty without asking questions about their missions.
Benedetto said that most Americans do not fully appreciate the way those in the military have sacrificed their youth, the healthy bodies, and even their lives to keep American free.
Rep. Engel, for his part, stressed that too few Americans take time out to reflect, even on Memorial Day, on the sacrifices that those in the military have made to maintain the freedoms that Americans enjoy.