American presidents are always looking for a historic marker in their presidencies. They like to boast about being the first to do something. Today President Trump can say that he is the first sitting president to attend the Veteran’s Day Parade in New York City. He was joined by First Lady Melania Trump.
Trump didn’t march in the parade (no bone spurs jokes, please) but he did deliver a speech before the parade began. Today’s was the 100th annual Veteran’s Day Parade in the city and it is a big one, with about 30,000 people marching. Every president has been invited for the past twenty-five years but Trump is the first to accept. Trump spoke for 20 minutes, mostly leaving politics out of his speech. He did bring up some recent accomplishments of the U.S. military, though, in the war on terrorism.
Trump cheered American special forces for carrying out the successful military raid that led to the death of elusive ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi weeks ago.
“Thanks to American warriors, al-Baghdadi is dead. His second in charge is dead. We have our eyes on No. 3. His reign of terror is over, and our enemies are running very, very scared,” Trump said.
“Those who threaten our people don’t stand a chance against the righteous might of the American military,” he continued.
What many may not realize is that Trump’s interest in the Veteran’s Day Parade isn’t new. He has a history of support with the annual event.
Constellations Group founder and veteran’s advocate Bill White told “Fox & Friends” last Wednesday that Trump in 1993 “wrote a ginormous check” and “saved the Veterans Day Parade.”
“He has been a friend to our veterans for many, many, many years,” White said. “We are so grateful to our president. We have a great commander-in-chief. There’s going to be 30,000 veterans, 400 military units.”
“And it’s our 100th anniversary,” he continued.
Though the parade “is a non-partisan, non-political event, and may not be used as a platform for any other purpose or political agenda” this is the Era of Trump and all things are political. It is the second visit to the city since Trump’s decision to make Florida his place of residence and there were plenty of protesters to boo and jeer him. It’s too bad that in today’s angry political climate, people showed up to vent against Trump instead of showing thanks to military veterans.
Protesting Trump at the NYC Veteran’s Day Parade. Trump deports vets, fires them (Vindman), and privatizes their health insurance. pic.twitter.com/fl7ShYnPlF
— Rise and Resist (@riseandresistny) November 11, 2019
Mr. Trump gave a speech that was met with some claps and cheers as he thanked veterans for their service. But raucous boos and chants jeering Mr. Trump could also be heard throughout.
Mr. Trump, the first sitting president to participate in the parade, addressed the crowd at Madison Square Park in Manhattan, just a couple of miles down Fifth Avenue from Trump Tower, the glass-and-steel skyscraper that has been his primary residence since 1983.
Hours before the president was set to appear, some supporters had already gathered near the park, many of them wearing hats bearing Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
But protesters had also gathered, a number of them from an anti-Trump group, Rise and Resist. They carried signs calling for Mr. Trump’s impeachment and shouted “shame” repeatedly.
In one act, people in buildings near the park had also posted signs in their windows bearing the words “impeach” and “convict.”
In windows of building overlooking Trump’s Veterans Day speech site pic.twitter.com/tMYSnaNrv7
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) November 11, 2019
Trump has his critics but a majority of veterans support him and approve of his leadership of the military. Six out of ten military veterans voted for Republicans in the 2018 mid-term elections. A recent Pew Research Center survey shows that Trump has stronger support from veterans than he does from the general public.
When he finished his speech, Trump laid at wreath at the Eternal Light Memorial in Central Square Park. Last year he attended a ceremony in Paris marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Vice-President Pence spoke at Arlington this year.
I know Trump’s past remarks have gotten him into hot water, especially like the ones he has made about John McCain, but I think it is more important now that he is the Commander-in-Chief to support his work on behalf of the military. He has made veterans’ issues an important part of his agenda in office and campaigned on doing that. He is campaigning on his successes now in his re-election bid, as well as promising to continue in a second term. He struck the right tone in today’s speech.
“The men and women who have donned our nation’s uniforms are the bravest, toughest, strongest and most virtuous warriors ever to walk on Earth,” Trump told the crowd.
“You left your families and fought in faraway lands. You came face-to-face with evil and you did not back down. You returned home from war and you never forgot your friends who didn’t return, including prisoners of war and those missing in action,” the president continued.
Happy Veterans Day to all who have served, including my husband, a Vietnam veteran. Thank you for your service.