WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is expected to kick off the New York City Veterans Day Parade, with an opening ceremony address that will mark the first time a commander in chief has headlined the event in its 100-year history, said organizers for the event on Wednesday.
United War Veterans Council chairman Douglas McGowan, in a statement posted on the group’s website, said Trump has accepted an invitation to kick off the annual parade that starts Monday at 10:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony at Madison Square Park.
“On behalf of all the men and women who have served our nation, and who continue to serve, the United War Veterans Council is honored that our Commander in Chief, President Donald J. Trump, has agreed to join our 100th annual tribute,” McGowan said in a statement. “This is a day when we put politics aside to focus on honoring our veterans, and to recommit ourselves as a community to provide them with the services they have earned, the services they deserve and, for many, the services they were denied.”
Trump’s appearance comes a day before he is expected to address the Economic Club of New York at the New York Midtown Hilton on Nov. 12, according to a White House official.
The White House has been tight-lipped about the president’s travel plans, but he is slated to attend the Alabama vs. LSU football game in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Saturday, before departing to New York City, according to a federal aviation advisory typically posted ahead of his travels aboard Air Force One.
Event organizers said more than 25,000 veterans, active duty military personnel, veterans advocates and school bands will march in the parade that starts on East 26th Street and continues north to East 46th Street just 10 blocks south of Trump Tower.
Trump took a previous interest in the parade, making a “substantial donation in the mid-1990s” to boost the parade after “years of neglect,” McGowan said Wednesday. Trump also donated money to build the New York City Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the mid-1980s, McGowan said.
The president last year came under bipartisan criticism for not honoring Veterans Day publicly. Past presidents have typically marked the day by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, but Trump told Fox News he was “extremely busy on calls for the country” that day, despite no meetings being listed on his public schedule.
“I should have done that,” Trump said in an interview with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, when asked about not going to Arlington.
In 2017, Trump marked the day in Vietnam by meeting with seven American Vietnam War veterans, after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.