By Maria Rocha-Buschel
New York City honored the country’s veterans during the 100th Veterans Day parade, which originated adjacent to the Eternal Light Monument flagstaff in Madison Square Park, this past Monday. President Donald Trump spoke at the opening ceremony of the parade, making him the first sitting president to attend the event.
The president was greeted by groups of supporters rallying on the South Flatiron Plaza, while a large group of protesters gathered next to Worth Square outside Madison Square Park, including veterans with signs criticizing Trump’s own lack of military service. A glass tower near the park where Trump spoke also spelled out “impeach” in the windows and “convict” on a higher floor.
Trump’s 18-minute speech in the park prior to the parade focused on the sacrifice of the nation’s veterans.
“This morning, as more than 30,000 patriotic Americans line the streets of Manhattan, we carry on a noble tradition that began one century ago,” Trump said. “In 1919, the people of this city filled block after block to welcome home General Pershing and his 25,000 American soldiers after victory in World War I. Just a few years before, many of those soldiers had boarded ships not far from here at Hoboken Port. More than 4 million Americans fought in the Great War, and more than 116,000 made the ultimate sacrifice. At the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, in 1918, the Armistice was declared, the war had come to an end, and the Allies achieved a great, great victory. Every year since, on November 11, we have shared our nation’s deepest praise and gratitude to every citizen who has worn the uniform of the American Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines. We are profoundly moved to have with us veterans of World War Two, including one of the grand marshals, Woody Williams.”
Trump also paid tribute in the speech to New York City, where he remains very unpopular and the place where he only a few months ago gave up residence in favor of Florida.
“It is very fitting that the Veterans Day Parade begin right here in New York City,” Trump said in his speech. “Since the earliest days of our nation, New York has exemplified the American spirit and has been at the heart of our nation’s story of daring and defiance.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo, US Senator Charles Schumer and Mayor Bill de Blasio also marched in the parade and of the local elected officials, the mayor received the most enthusiastic, although not positive, reaction from spectators on Monday afternoon. Just north of Madison Square Park, de Blasio was met with boos from those watching on the sidewalk.
Schumer marched with 100-year-old World War II veteran Sidney Walton, pushing Walton’s wheelchair along the parade route.