‘We thank and commend President Trump for leading that effort on this Centennial, and we acknowledge his historic support…’
(Liberty Headlines) President Donald Trump will speak at the opening ceremony of the New York City Veterans Day Parade next week as he returns to a city he no longer calls home, organizers and the White House announced Wednesday.
United War Veterans Council Chairman Douglas McGowan said Trump will offer a tribute to veterans ahead of Monday’s 100th annual parade. While presidents have always been invited, McGowan said that, as far as he knows, Trump is the first to accept.
“On behalf of all the men and women who have served our nation, and who continue to serve, the United War Veterans Council is honored that our Commander in Chief, President Donald J. Trump, has agreed to join our 100th annual tribute,” McGowan said.
“ … We thank and commend President Trump for leading that effort on this Centennial,” he continued, “and we acknowledge his historic support for our activities here in New York City.”
The Republican president was born in Queens and his brand has long been synonymous with the city.
Trump did not serve in the military, receiving multiple deferments that allowed him to avoid the Vietnam War draft. Nonetheless, as commander-in-chief he has been outspoken in his support for the military—despite having moved the country on a more pacifist and isolationist path than his predecessors.
He also has been a longtime supporter of New York’s Veterans Day parade.
During the 1990s, he pledged $200,000 and offered to raise money from friends in exchange for being named the parade’s grand marshal, The New York Times reported at the time. And he donated toward the creation of the city’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
“This is a day when we put politics aside to focus on honoring our veterans, and to re-commit ourselves as a community to providing them with the services they have earned, the services they deserve and, for many, the services they were denied,” McGowan said in a statement.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, while calling on it to be a moment free of partisan rancor, wasted no opportunity launching personal snipes at the president.
The unpopular mayor, who recently abandoned his presidential bid after failing to crack the 1 percent threshold needed for debates, told reporters he hoped the president would attend the event with a recognition that it “is not about him, this is about our veterans.”
“It should not be politicized. It should not be turned into a spectacle,” de Blasio said. “If he’s coming here to truly honor veterans, God bless him. But I’d really like to see something a little different than what we’ve seen in some of his other appearances.”
More than 25,000 parade participants, including veterans, active-duty military personnel and their supporters, are expected to march along Fifth Avenue during this year’s event.
In addition to speaking at the kickoff event, Trump will lay a wreath at the Eternal Light memorial in Madison Square Park, White House spokesman Judd Deere said.
At last year’s parade, marching bands played patriotic songs and onlookers waved American flags. That parade commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.