Veterans Day Parade Part 1

As NYC dot gov predicted, the 89th Annual NYC Veterans Day Parade did kick off at 11am.  Nowadays, I’m suspicious of that site’s accuracy as earlier posts have indicated.  But the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is the marker of the end of “the war to end all wars” and the paraders were more accurate in their timing than the old name for WWI.

I showed up early to get a place near the reviewing stand.  I was at 41st Street and 5th Avenue, right across from the New York Public Library.  Fifteen minutes before the start of the parade, it was nearly deserted.  Nearly…there was me and an official parade filmer.  The picture below was thirty minutes into the parade so there is a little bit of a crowd. 

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But, at that point, there had only been one set of marchers.  The parade started at 26th Street and, like all NYC parades, it takes a while to get 15 blocks.

The first set of marchers is usually cops on horses.  Not this time.  The first harbingers of the march were motorcyclists.  Lots of them.  And, actually, the first of three sets.

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With groups like this, I always think of the Marine Corps toy drive.  Just one of those images in my mind.  There were a bunch of these guys, almost all of the Vietnam Vets from what I remember.

But, along with the cycles, they did have at least one vintage car.

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The day had a bunch of motorcyclists and vintage cars.  Those were some of the most enjoyable parts.

Right after the six traditional “cops on horses” came…more motorcycles.  These were the Patriot Guard Riders.

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Lots of them, too.

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But they didn’t have a vintage car.  Nosirreebob.

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The first contingent of WWII vets walked past.

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They were followed by the usual group of dignitaries.  Every parade has to have a set of these guys.

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But it wasn’t the “usual” group.  Look closely and you’ll see NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg toward the right-center (between the tall Black guy and the White guy in fatigues).  Huzzah to you, sir!  No special fanfare for him and no huge group of “the select” around him.  This is the most informal and most exposed I’ve seen him.  Well done, your honor.

The next group was an Andrews Sister-style act.  They were singing “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me”.  I think they timed the song wrong to get to the reviewing stand so they had to keep repeating the stanza, but it’s been so long since I heard it and maybe I thought the song was a bit more complex.  Nevertheless, they had good voices and they did set a nice tone to the atmosphere of the parade.

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And then the traditional “big flag” display came by.  It was a BIGGGG FLAG.  It was from the World Trade Center and carried by Ground Zero volunteers.  After they came by, they started a “wave” that I have to say was impressive (and I’ve seen a lot of these).

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Every parade needs it traditional “men in skirts”.  I really love bagpipers.  I have to admit that when they are played by men in pants, it loses something.  And these guys were really well dressed.

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They were followed by a vintage firetruck.  With veteran riders, of course.

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One of the few commercial groups then showed up.  The Veterans Post News group was preceded by an honor guard.

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Afterward, one of the cool parts of the parade:  vintage army vehicles.  First came a “Duck“.  These were used in WWII to cross waterways.

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It had a number of vets on it, but this guy caught my eye.  I like to think he spent a lot of time in one of these things.

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And then there were a number of duece-and-a-half transport trucks.  The name stands for a two and a half ton truck.

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And a bunch of jeeps and hummers.  All of them filled with vets and their families.

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And then this monster.  All I can remember of it is that it was an ammo carrier of some sort.  Just a huge truck.  Obviously, a lot smaller than a modern semi, but it just seemed so big.

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There’s lots more to the parade, but that’s for later posts.

Just an overall statement about the parade.  I’ll fill in more in future posts, but I’d have to say that there wasn’t a lot to really be happy about in the parade.  The WWII vets are well advanced in years, now.  Hey, it’s been 52 years.  You look at this and wonder how much longer they’re going to be in these parades.  A few will hang on for a long time, but the generation is definitely fading.  Just a few walked it.  Most were bundled into vehicles, and a whole lot of them were in enclosed vehicles, some with tinted window.  That’s just the way things are, and they did great things and have every reason to be proud of what they did, too.

I can’t blame them for not walking.  It was a bitterly cold day and those of us watching were freezing.  My coat was too light and I could barely write any notes.  We were enthusiastic watchers, though.  But so few of us.  You’ll see that the crowds were pretty poor.  Also, at least three times during the parade people came up to me or to people next to me and asked what was going on.  They didn’t even know it was Veterans Day.

-H

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