Dueling Protests As President Trump Kicks Off 100th Annual NYC Veterans Day Parade

Sean Adams
November 11, 2019 - 2:09 pm
President Trump Attends New York City's Veterans Day Parade

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- A historic moment marked the New York City Veterans Day Parade for its 100th year. 

President Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to attend the red, white and blue affair on Monday.

Trump helped kick off the ceremonies, delivering opening remarks at Madison Square Park, where he also laid a wreath at the Eternal Light Memorial.

He thanked the nation's veterans for their service and called for the country to honor their sacrifice.

"Today we come together as one nation to salute the veterans of the United States Armed Forces — the greatest warriors to ever walk the face of the earth. Our veterans risked everything for us, now it is our duty to serve and protect them every single day of our lives," Trump said. "While we can never repay our warriors for their boundless service and sacrifice, we must uphold with supreme vigilance our sacred obligation to care for those who have borne the battle."

The president's remarks spanned the decades from the Battle of the Bulge 75 years ago to the recent killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

It's been a common courtesy over the past century to invite the commander-in-chief to the parade, but this is the first time the invitation has been accepted.

Nick Angione with the United War Veterans Council says they were surprised and excited when President Trump responded "yes."

"My belief is that it sends a wonderful message that says, 'Hey, we are going to come together as a country.' This is one of the largest parades in the nation. This is where he chose to be and let's just put everything aside and just say thank you and just make it a party," Angione told WCBS 880's Sean Adams. "It's not Memorial Day, it's Veteran's Day, so it's just about thank you for your service, let's accentuate all of the positives, let's learn from the negatives and let's just put on a parade."

"It's a big deal, it's definitely something that amped up the Veterans Parade," Angione added.

Angione asked all parties to sheath their political swords and place the focus on the nation's veterans, but despite the pleas from parade organizers there were dueling protests outside Madison Square Park and letters in the windows of a nearby high-rise spelled out "IMPEACH" and "CONVICT."

As WCBS 880's Sean Adams reported, supporters and opponents of the president debated and shouted on the sidelines along 23rd Street, but many more folks turned out to support the stars of the day — veterans. Marine Capt. Colleen Randolph said she appreciates the support. 

"I think that it definitely puts an emphasis on how important this day is and how important celebrating our veterans is and should be to all americans. Whether you served for a year or a career-- you sacrifice something," Randolph said. 

The New York City Veterans Day Parade is the largest commemoration of service in the nation. As a private citizen, Trump made a substantial donation in the mid 1990s to help the parade recover from years of neglect, said United War Veterans Council Chairman Douglas McGowan. He also donated to the creation of New York City’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the mid 1980s and again, in the early 2000s.

The first parade was held 100 years ago, when General John J. Pershing and 25,000 troops returned home from the first World War.

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Every year since then, more than 25,000 participants including veterans, active duty military personnel and their supporters make their way up Fifth Avenue.

The parade will kick off at 24th Street and Fifth Avenue at noon and proceed north on Fifth Avenue to 48th Street. See the parade route.

The following streets will be closed Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the Veteran’s Day Parade and Festival at the discretion of NYPD:

Formation
Broadway between 23rd Street and 28th Street
5th Avenue between 23rd Street and 24th Street
24th Street between 6th Avenue and 5th Avenue
25th Street between 6th Avenue and 5th Avenue
26th Street between Madison Avenue and 6th Avenue
27th Street between 6th Avenue and 5th Avenue
28th Street between 6th Avenue and 5th Avenue

Route
5th Avenue between 24th Street and 48th Street

Dispersal
48th Street between 6th Avenue and Madison Avenue

Festival
46th Street between 6th Avenue and Madison Avenue

Miscellaneous
43rd Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue
41st Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue
30th Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue
25th Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue
22nd Street between 5th Avenue and Broadway
5th Avenue between 22nd Street and 23rd Street
Broadway between 22nd Street and 23rd Street
6th Avenue between 28th Street and 23rd Street
Madison Avenue between 26th Street and 23rd Street
Park Avenue between 26th Street and 23rd Street
26th Street between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue
25th Street between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue
24th Street between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue
23rd Street between 5th Avenue and Park Avenue