President Donald Trump will make history as being the first and only president to open the New York City’s Veterans Day Parade on Monday.
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Trump is scheduled to provide an address at the 100th Annual Opening Ceremony of the parade and will then lay a wreath at the Eternal Light Memorial at Madison Square Park, the New York Post reported. It is customary for the president to be formally invited to the event, but Trump is the first president to accept the invitation.
The parade is hosted annually by the United War Veterans Council.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said will serve as an honorary grand marshal for the parade and will lead a group of Marines up Fifth Avenue.
There will also be five other grand marshals present at the parade, including Herschel “Woody” Williams, a World War II Marine and Medal of Honor recipient.
“The President has been a great supporter of our veterans and indeed this parade here in New York City for more than 25 years,” said 2019 Veteran’s Day Parade co-producer Bill White. “What he is doing now as president with regard to veterans’ choice, funding our military, and holding them and their families in the highest regard is truly extraordinary. He is loved by our veterans for sure.”
Trump has been a supporter of the parade even before his presidency. In 1995, Trump offered to donate $200,000 to help the parade when it was struggling financially.
In 1985, he also donated $1 million to construct a Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 55 Water St.
Doug McGowan, chairman of the United War Veterans Council Board said, “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. We thank and commend President Trump for leading that effort on this Centennial, and we acknowledge his historic support for our activities here in New York City.”
Trump will be the first president in more than ten years to spend Veteran’s Day in New York.
President Bush observed the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on Veteran’s Day in 2008 and in 2001 he attended a Veterans Day prayer breakfast and visited Ground Zero.
It is more common for presidents to honor veterans on Veterans Day by visiting Arlington National Cemetery and laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
During his eight years in office, President Clinton spent every Veteran’s Day at Arlington. President Obama was unable to attend Arlington on two occasions during his presidency, once to be in South Korea and the other to be in China.
Trump received criticism for last year’s Veteran’s Day ceremony after he spent the day in his office making phone calls, instead of visiting Arlington National Cemetery. He later apologized and acknowledged he should have visited Arlington.
In 2017, Trump observed Veteran’s Day in Vietnam, where he visited with military veterans.