Veterans Day Parade celebrates end of WWI

Photos by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday, around 25,000 veterans, active military personnel and their supporters marched up Fifth Avenue from 23rd Street for New York City’s annual Veterans Day Parade.

The city’s parade, which is the largest in the country, this year celebrated the centennial of the end of World War I, with the army the featured branch of the military.

Prior to the march, speakers mentioned how that war presented a number of firsts, including women joining the ranks. Additionally, one tenth of the military during what was then known as “The Great War” or “The World War” were residents of New York State, half of those New Yorkers from the city.

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City breaks ground on new entrance at Madison Square Park monument

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new park entrance was held last Thursday at the Eternal Light monument. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Madison Square Park Conservancy officially broke ground at the Eternal Light Memorial Flagstaff on the renovation project to create an entrance by the monument last Thursday. The project, the budget for which is $2 million, is expected to be completed in time for the centenary of Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I, on November 11.

The renovations are part of Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver’s “Parks Without Borders” initiative intended to open up park edges and create inviting entrances into city parks. The plan is also part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program and the Department of Transportation’s ongoing effort to enhance safety around parks and public plazas. The adjustments at the monument are meant to enhance pedestrian circulation and safety at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue by directly aligning the new entrance with the 24th Street crosswalk. The project will also give the memorial increased prominence in the park in honor of the veteran community.

The renovations will include demolishing the pavers and fencing around the memorial’s base and constructing a new plaza, as well as installing new gardens, fencing and benches around the plaza. The pavers and electrical infrastructure around the southern end of the park will be replaced and upgraded as part of the renovations.

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America’s Parade 2016

Photos by Maya Rader

Photos by Maya Rader

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, the Veterans Day Parade, also known as America’s Parade, took place with around 25,000 marchers making their way from Madison Square Park up to midtown.

This year’s parade commemorated the 15th anniversary of 9/11, with special recognition of Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Post-9/11 veterans, as well as first responders. It also marked the 25th anniversary of Desert Storm. The Coast Guard was this year’s featured military branch.

Town & Village’s own advertising representative Sal Governale, who served as a member of the Coast Guard and is now a reservist, attended the festivities and noticed that among marchers there was some discontent. A number of veterans in attendance, Governale observed, were complaining bitterly about the president-elect. One concern was over Donald Trump’s widely reported critical remarks to the parents of a fallen Muslim American soldier, made during the campaign.

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Nation’s veterans are remembered

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By Sabina Mollot
New York City’s 95th Veterans Day Parade, also known as America’s Parade, took place on Tuesday, attracting crowds of spectators, who, for nearly the entire route along Fifth Avenue, were at least three rows deep.
Many waved flags and all seemed to have as many cheers for the countless stream of veterans and current servicemen and women marching by as for the more high-profile guests.
Those included Mets player Jacob deGrom, who had just been named Rookie of the Year, and former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, a parade grand marshal. DeGrom marched alongside his wife Stacey, and Kelly, a former Marine, marched with his wife Veronica, a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard reserves. Others marching including Amanda Wirtz, Miss Veteran America 2014, members of different military organizations from around the country and numerous marching bands.
As always, the parade kicked off at Madison Square Park with a memorial ceremony, a wreath laying and shots fired in the air, before heading off to 56th Street.
At the park, several elected officials spoke about veterans issues, including U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, who said more needs to be done to prevent suicide among veterans.
“The rate of suicide is far too high. We need better screenings,” he said, noting that a bill by an Indiana senator, which he’s pushing, is aimed at providing mental health screenings on an annual basis for all military service members. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who marched in the parade but didn’t attend the opening ceremony, spoke at a breakfast event.
He said more was being done to help veterans find jobs with special Workforce1 centers around the city which have placed over 1,000 veterans and spouses of veterans in jobs since January.
Additionally, he said, “They’ve helped more than 3,800 veterans with career counseling and workshops, and they’re expanding services to be available all over the city.”
Other elected officials to attend the parade included Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was also there, marching arm in arm with World War II veteran Frederick Carrier, who fought in the invasion of Normandy.
Among the spectators were countless people who held homemade signs saying “Thank you.” Others came bearing photos of deceased veteran family members, like Peter Cooper Village resident Linda Wray.
Wray held a recent photo of her husband, Korean War veteran and U.S. Air Force Colonel Bernard Wray, posing with Mayor Bloomberg. Upon seeing some other Korean War vets milling around the street in the their signature blue jackets, Wray noted, “There are fewer and fewer of them every year. Like the World War II veterans who are in their 90s, the Korean War vets are in their 80s.”
While not a veteran herself, Wray attended wearing a hat that identified her as a member of the local post of the Jewish War Veterans.
The Stuyvesant Town area post, which has marched in the parade in previous years, has opted out for the past couple of years to hold its own, private ceremony in front of the VA Medical Center.