NYC Veterans Day Parade a boon for service members

U.S. soldiers march along fifth avenue as part

U.S. soldiers march along fifth avenue as part of the Veterans Day parade in New York in 2009. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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The New York City Veterans Day Parade, which this year highlights the contributions of female service members, has always been a time to celebrate and honor all who have sacrificed and died on our nation's behalf.

But "America's Parade," which is now in its 94th year with about 27,000 participants, is also a welcome chance for veterans to network, swap war stories and feel solidarity with others who can understand their feelings like no one else.

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The parade "is really an opportunity for vets to reconnect with one another," observed Mike Abrams, 33, a former U.S. Marine Corps captain and current member of the Marine Corps Reserves who founded Four Block Foundation, a program that helps veterans transition to corporate careers. The nationally televised parade -- the largest in the country -- attracts retired and active service members from all over, not only to march, but to catch up and strategize.

Among honorees in this year's parade is Hershel Woodrow "Woody" Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima, site of the iconic flag-raising photo.

The parade, which runs north along Fifth Avenue from 26th Street to 56th Street, kicks off about 11:25 a.m. today and goes until around 3:30 p.m., rain or shine.

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