BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – On this Memorial Day weekend, the Buffalo Naval and Military Park makes its triumphant return. The park closed last month due to the sinking of USS The Sullivans, but the ship has been righted and the park is back open.
Thousands stopped by during Memorial Day weekend to pay their respects and tour the ships.
“It’s a beautiful day and there’s a lot of people walking around,” Buffalo Naval and Military Park President Paul Marzello said. “We just want to make sure when people have a chance and they do come down here that the have an opportunity to tour the ships, walk the grounds, pay their respects, maybe go to a ceremony.”
Sal Vaccaro, a vet who was touring the ships with his family, told News 4 what the ship means to him.
“Just the remembrance of it — of all the troops that gave the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
Trish Smith, who was also visiting the Naval Park over the weekend, discussed her remembrance of a family member.
“My uncle was in the Marines and he was in Korea and I have to honor his great sacrifice,” she said.
As of right now, tours are only available for the USS Little Rock and USS Croaker.
“It was incredible. The amount of different displays that they had so it was really neat,” said Josh Black, who was visiting from northern Indiana.
According to Marzello, repairs are still needed on the USS The Sullivans before it’s ready for tours again.
“All the work that’s being done underneath, inside, lower decks, is going to take some time. It’s going to be near the end of the summer before we open that up again,” he said.
About six weeks ago, the ship began sinking, causing an all-hands-on-deck effort from the Naval Park, divers, city officials and the community to save it.
“I think that’s phenomenal. That’s one ship that’s a piece of history you never want to forget about and I’m glad they made the proper repairs,” Vaccaro said.
“It’s great — when we read about and heard about the Sullivans taking on water, that was obviously very worrisome, but it sounds like they got it under control, so that’s good to hear,” said Edward Davis.
One of the things people will see when they visit the Naval Park are the 7,300 American flags that are on display near the Monuments Garden. These flags represent the number of veterans who have lost their battles with PTSD since last memorial day.
“This is the place to be in Buffalo for Memorial Day,” park visitor Shannon Kedge said. “With all the flags, it’s so beautiful how they honor and spend so much time honoring the veterans.”
The Naval and Military Park started its day Monday with a ceremony at 10 a.m.
Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.