Flags of the Armed Forces
One of the best parades the city has is the annual Veteran’s Day parade where servicemen and women are remembered for all they endured to defend our freedom and preserve our nation from threats outside and within our great nation. Since the first parade in 1919, at the end of World War 1, revelers lined up the parade route on 5th Ave. to cheer on and thank the proud vets and current military personnel. You couldn’t have asked for nicer weather for the largest event in the country to honor our vets. Before the parade though, there is a gathering at Madison Square Park where vets are honored and the laying of the wreaths at The Heroes Monument occurs with a 21 gun salute at exactly 11:11 am. The parade started right after that with a convoy of loud motorcycles from vets getting everyone ready for what would be a memorable day for all. As usual the NYPD mounted police let everyone know the first group was nearby with the NYPD Marching Band getting things worked up for the crowd. Not to be outdone, the FDNY Pipes and Drum Band made their grand entrance. They’re always in competition. Just like this year’s Presidential election, it was a close call to see which one played better. Although Blue was the favorite, looks like Red scored the most points.
NYPD Det. Nelson Vegara, FDNY Chief Duggan and Port Authority COO Stephanie Dawson
West Point Cadets
Proudly Carrying the Stars and Stripes
One part of the parade that always gets to me is when the World Trade Center flag is displayed. With all the horrors that occurred on 9/11, the Stars and Stripes was preserved through all the rubble. This years Grand Marshalls knew from first hand experience about 9/11 as all the three were First Responders and eventually served in the Invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Col. US Army and NY Port Authority Commanding Officer Stephanie Dawson, FDNY Battalion Chief and US Army Vet Joseph Duggan Jr, and NYPD Detective and Marine Corp Vet Nelson Vergara were all honored for their bravery and commitment to serving our city and country. Soon after them was the first group of the four major Armed Forces, the Army. They were well represented with the West Point Cadets and the 42nd Infantry Division and their marching bands. With their sharp uniforms and precision marching, they made quite an impression . Several marching bands from across the country made the trip to the Big Apple, many for the first time ever. One of the more notable High School marching Bands came from Sapula, Oklahoma. They were very good.
One of the better marching bands
Marine Corp. leading the way
Naval Officers in Charge
Coast Guards Give the OK
Along with vets and current military personnel are the groups that help support them. Operation Mend was one of the first of these groups that helps vets get back to normal life after serving our country. Probably the biggest group is the Wounded Warriors Project and their huge volunteer support group. Another High School band that made some nice sounds came from Inman, South Carolina. They led the way for another branch of our Armed Services, the Marine Corp. No marching bands from the Marine Corp…they mean business. A tribute to the USS Iwo Jima from the powerful Navy was next up along with a great marching band that came down from Massachusetts to show the other bands how it’s done. The High School Marching band that came the furthest was from Spokane Washington in the West Valley HS MB. They played their little hearts out. The last of the Armed Forces to march was the Coast Guard. They brought their best band and some firepower. Hard to tell which of the armed forces had the best display and marching bands. They were all excellent.
WW2 Vet Having Some Fun
Dad would have been proud
Maggie brought her Dad with her
Take Me Home Huey Project
The part that everyone had been waiting for finally arrived, the display of our beloved vets. The first being the remaining World War 2 Vets… or as Tom Brokaw brilliantly wrote about, the Greatest Generation. One of the happiest WW2 vets was Luke G proudly displaying a sign that he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and is 92 years young. God bless. What was more touching though were the children of deceased vets that brought their father’s pictures with them to the parade. Folks like Louis from the Bronx that brought his father, Joseph’s photo, or Maggie that brought her father Henry’s photo so that somehow some way they can be part of the experience. It’s similar to when the cub scouts bring out large photos of WW2 vets that perished at Pearl Harbor but on a much more personal level. Next up were the vets from the Korean War with great representation from all the local chapters. They were greeted with loud applause from the crowd. The Koreans that helped us were also given a large ovation. A group of Veteran Moms and the Blue Star Moms also were shown a lot of love by the crowd. Right after them, the Air Force landed with a marching band up from Washington DC. The band was great and helped introduce the next group of vets, the Vietnam War vets. They got the loudest applause of all and heard many fellow Vietnam Vets yell out Welcome Home. This year, the crowd was treated to the Take Me Home Huey Project where a medical evacuation helicopter that was shot down on February 14, 1969 in Vietnam was displayed after an amazing transformation. Part of the original remaining crew was reunited and got plenty of thanks and applaud from the crowd. Vietnam vets also paid tribute to the USS Battleship New Jersey that served in the War. The last and the loudest of all our vets are the Iraq and Afghanistan post 9/11 vets. They still have that can do – kick butt energy needed to take on any challenge. Much like the same soldiers did in WW1, WW2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War. It’s all part of that unique American get it done mind set that makes the USA the greatest military force in world history. Thank you for our vets to help us get there.