What to Know
- More than 25,000 parade participants including veterans, active duty military personnel and supporters are expected to march along 5th Ave.
- The parade kicks off Monday at 10 a.m.
- This year, however, the event will be met with security challenges since President Donald Trump spoke at the event
Referring to the brave who have served this country as "towering spirit of strength," President Donald Trump kicked off New York City's Veterans Day Tribute Monday morning at Madison Square Park.
Thousands of parade participants including veterans, active duty military personnel and their supporters set out, marching along Fifth Avenue as marching bands play patriotic songs along a sea of waving American flags.
Trump spoke at the opening of the 100th annual parade organized by the United War Veterans Council.
This year, President Trump accepted an invitation to kick off the parade, the first sitting president to do so. His appearance inspired some to put aside political differences, at least for the day.
"Despite all the controversies he’s the Commander in Chief, he’s the president of the country, he’s my boss," Haitian American Veterans Association member Fritz Fils-Aime said.
Trump has been a longtime supporter of the parade. The New York Times reported that he pledged $200,000 during the 1990s and offered to raise money from friends in exchange for being named the parade's grand marshal.
During his opening ceremony remarks, which counted with hundreds of veterans present, Trump said that it was an honor to recognize the veterans who "risked so much for us," adding that "this nation is forever in your debt."
Throughout his speech he paid tribute to all those in the U.S. Armed Forces, including individual World War II veterans who were present and additional veterans who have since passed away.
"The towering spirit of strength that we see in the city lives within the hearts of every American warrior," he said, adding that veterans "risked everything for us. Now it is our duty to serve and protect them every single day of our lives."
Although the original plan was for Trump to lay a wreath the Eternal Light memorial in Madison Square Park, he did not do so. It is unclear if there was a change in plans. Veterans appeared to do the wreath laying.
During the opening ceremony, there was the sound of protesters from about a block or two away, including whistles and even the chant of "lock him up," which was audible in the park. However, it is unclear if these chants could be heard from the stage.
Additionally, seen on one of the buildings surrounding the park, there were two rows of windows with letters on them spelling out the "IMPEACH" and "CONVICT." Based on where the building is located and how high up the words were, it is unclear if they were seen by the president.
But not everyone was happy to see the protesters present.
"Anybody who holds a sign up against our president is what upsets me," said one veteran attending the parade. "And I'm not afraid of any one of them. If I had a hun here now I'd wipe them all out."
The announcement of Trump's attendance came just days after news broke that the Republican president, who was born in Queens, has officially changed his residency to Florida, where he owns several properties, including the Mar-a-Lago club, where he spends many winter weekends. During his speech, he said it was "good to be back."