The annual New York City Veterans Day Parade took place on 5th Avenue from 26th-56th Street, a short but brisk walk from Times Square and Penn Station/Madison Square Garden. It started at 11:30 after an opening ceremony in which TAPS was played. This year’s theme was “the Blessings of Liberty” and it marked the 90th anniversary of Veterans Day, first celebrated in 1919.
My son and I were lucky enough to catch the LIRR from Babylon to attend, taking advantage of the mild weather and his day off of school. The people surrounding us included other tourists, local residents, and employees on their lunch or coffee breaks. The crowd changed often, with people coming and going throughout the duration of the parade, some citing the chilly breezes or need to return to work or stay on their tourism schedule.
Included in the parade were representatives from each branch of the military, including the National Guard. Veterans from the Korean War (Nassau County Chapter pictured here), Vietnam, World War II, and the younger group of the Iraq and Afghanistan Conflicts marched proudly. ROTC and JROTC groups from area high schools and colleges marched as well, many of the members with a career or tour in the military in their future.
Marching bands, twirlers and Step squads from as far away as Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio kept the crowd entertained while honoring the military with American or branch flags and in some cases pictures or names of fallen heroes.
Some parade participants were kind enough to pass out freebies, from tiny globes to small American flags and mini Servicemen/women dolls to the children. Many informational brochures were handed out by various veteran related organizations.
The NYPD was there to handle the crowds, which abounded, cheering, clapping and waiving each time a new group of soldiers or military representatives walked by. Metal gates kept onlookers off the streets, and pedestrians and cars were waived through intermittently by the NYPD in between sets of marchers.
It was definitely an event that I would recommend for the family, and something I will be returning to next year and the year after. My 10 year old son was entertained, as were the 4 year old and 13 year old standing next to us. It’s close enough (walking distance or a short cab ride) to major tourist attractions that you and the family will have something to do for the rest of the day.