President Donald Trump, marking Veterans Day in Manhattan on Monday, honored the men and women who served and sacrificed for their fellow Americans as “the greatest warriors to ever walk the face of the Earth.”
The commander-in-chief reflected on those who took up arms over the generations at the opening ceremony for the 100th New York City Veterans Day Parade, appearing alongside Democratic elected officials in a diplomatic show of unity.
“We will ensure that righteous legacy of America’s veterans stands as a testament to this nation from now until the end of time,” Trump said at the centennial commemoration in Madison Square Park. “To every veteran here today and all across our land, you are America’s greatest living heroes. And we will cherish you now, always and forever.”
Trump, a native New Yorker, returned to his hometown as the first sitting U.S. president to attend the city’s Veterans Day events. The president, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, also participated in the ceremony in which a wreath of red, white and blue flowers was placed at the park’s Eternal Light Memorial.
He did not march in the annual parade up Fifth Avenue.
Trump addressed a crowd that included active-duty military members as well as veterans of armed conflicts stretching back to World War II. He shared the stories of Corp. Jack Foy, a 94-year-old veteran of the Battle of the Bulge who was in the audience; and Rick Rescorla, a Vietnam War hero who as Morgan Stanley head of security saved lives during the 9/11 terror attacks before giving his own.
“While we can never repay our warriors for their boundless service and sacrifice, we must uphold with supreme vigilance our sacred obligation to care for those who have borne the battle,” Trump said.
Trump applauded the U.S. Special Forces that last month raided an Islamic State compound and killed the terror group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“Thanks to American warriors, al-Baghdadi is dead,” he said. “His reign of terror is over, and our enemies are running very, very scared.”
Again and again in his remarks, the commander-in-chief acknowledged what members of the U.S. military gave of themselves in defending American lives and American freedom.
“You left your families and fought in faraway lands,” he said. “You came face-to-face with evil and you did not back down. You return home from war and you never forgot your friends who didn't return, including prisoners of war and those missing in action.”
Though the Republican president and Democratic leaders in attendance — including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — set aside their differences for the ceremony, there were reminders throughout the day in the deep-blue city of the impeachment inquiry the House Democrats are conducting into Trump.
Signs posted in the windows of a high-rise building overlooking Madison Square Park spelled out “impeach” and “convict.” And along the parade route, jeers were heard and signs with disparaging messages were held aloft as the president's motorcade returned to Trump Tower.