By Emily Drooby
Veterans and active service members from all over the country heard the President’s supportive words on Nov. 11, with many saying that no matter your political affiliation, it’s a great honor.
God Bless America rang out as a sea of red white and blue filled Fifth Avenue.
The Veterans Day Parade is a time-honored tradition that started a century ago.
This year was historic as President Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to take part in the festivities, kicking off the day with a speech at Madison Square Park.
“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,” said Trump.
Veterans and active service members alike said they were grateful for the appearance.
Dewayn Kilgo of the U.S. Navy said, “For me it’s a big deal, first time, I have never been this close to the President. Obviously, he’s my Commander in Chief, it’s a huge honor for me.”
Trump is a long-time supporter of the parade and in the past, he’s donated to and helped raise money for the beloved New York tradition.
The President was joined by over 30,000 spectators and veterans from all generations, including Medal of Honor recipient Herschel “Woody” Williams, who was impressed with the massive patriotic crowds lining the parade route.
“If you’re not thrilled about this, I don’t know what could make you thrilled. It just speaks a tremendous amount about New York,” said Williams.
The World War II veteran was one of the parades grand marshals, and one of 18 million veterans living in this country.
Another veteran, Tom Crockett of the U.S. Navy, said today isn’t just for people like him and woody.
“They have given their whole lives, they’ve given their lives, and a lot of them aren’t here to celebrate with us, they served and died for their country,” said Crockett.
Crockett is a life-long service member and Brooklyn resident. He was also very excited to see President Trump take part in the parade today.
Of course, not everyone was happy to see the President. There were plenty of protesters out, but many along the parade route said Veterans Day is not a day for politics. It’s a day to come together as a country to celebrate our veterans.