Veterans Day: New York Style

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November 11, 1918, the Armistice was signed, ending “the war to end all wars.”

November 11, 2015, surrounded by waving flags and cheering tourists, I watched with chills as I was overwhelmed with pride and gratitude, realizing how indebted we will forever be to the men and women who were marching before me.

A Little History…

On the eleventh day of the eleventh month at 11am, Germany and the Allies met in a small town in France to sign an armistice – which put an end to World War I. Just one year later, the day was made a holiday by President Wilson, who commemorated the day with these words, “the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.”

Shortly after World War II, the holiday was changed to “Veterans Day,” to include and honor all soldiers who have fought and are currently serving in the United States Military.

Veterans Day is a great reminder that the freedoms we have as Americans are because of the men and women who have, and currently are, serving this great country.

Now, enough of the history lesson – I want to tell you a little bit about how New York City celebrates this great holiday!

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America’s Parade is the official title of the parade that takes place every year on 5th Avenue in New York City. It was the definition of organized chaos. Side streets were filled with high school bands and countless motorcycles. Children shouted with glee as they waved to spectators from atop floats and in response, people lining the streets waved their flags. Some NYPD officers waited patiently to walk in their dress blues in the parade, while others had donned bright yellow vests in order to direct the crowd. What did they all have in common? Smiles everywhere.

Over 20,000 people marched over a mile from 24th Street to 52nd Street. The parade featured over 250 groups including veterans from all eras dating back to WWII, active military units and ROTC units. Having one day every year to say “thank you” to all of these people is not enough, but New York certainly makes the most of that day.

Celebrating Veterans day made me think a lot about the sacrifices that have been made by millions of Americans, and how so often we don’t even give them a second thought. I thought it would be interesting to see how my fellow New Yorkers were also feeling as the parade made its way through the city.

Tori Stamoulis from Staten Island said, “To me it’s a day of history and healing. The amount of years and tears brave families, men and women, shed on our behalf just so we could live in freedom… It’s a day to remember how we got here in the first place.”

Another New Yorker, Courtney McNeil, stated simply, “We have to thank the men and women who fought and sacrificed their lives for our freedom.”

So, here’s my question… What does Veterans Day mean to YOU? Let us know on twitter @RideofFame!