Tens of Thousands March in Veterans Day Parade

Tens of thousands of marchers paraded up Fifth Avenue on Thursday in a Veterans Day tribute honoring those serving in the armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as those who wore the uniform during conflicts including World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

It was one of a number of commemorations to veterans around the metropolitan region. 

On Wall Street, Marine Corps Brigadier General Steven W. Busby and other members of the armed forces, joined several former Navajo "code talkers" in ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. The code talkers created an unbreakable code from their ancient language and transmitted secret communications in the Pacific theater during World War II.

Later, a Hudson River wreath-laying was planned for an afternoon ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

On Long Island, a Sherman tank used in World War II was dedicated at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale.

Before the parade in Manhattan, a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps kicked off Thursday's ceremonies at the Eternal Light Monument at Madison Square Park.

Gov. David Paterson, speaking at the service, noted that veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq today are treated far better than those who fought in the Vietnam War.

"However you felt about the war, we did not treat the war veterans right," he said. "The government didn't provide them with the services they needed, and they weren't given the dignity and respect."

Architect Ricardo Norena, a native of Colombia who came to the United States 20 years ago, watched the parade with his 5-year-old son.

"This is very important for the country," he said. "It's time for my son to start paying tribute also."

Veteran Rocco Moretto, 86, said he took part in the Allied invasion of Normandy when he was just 19.

"This brings back memories of all those great people left behind in foreign lands," he said. "I'm always so proud to be able to march on this day."

The parade's grand marshal was former Yankees infielder and San Diego Padres Hall of Fame broadcaster Jerry Coleman. The 86-year-old veteran is being honored for his service in both WWII and the Korean War.

Also honored at the parade were dignitaries from South Korea. Officials noted that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

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