November 2016 New York, NY: Amid shouts of “thank you for your service…” thousands of New Yorkers, along with a sizeable number of tourists, watched the 97th annual Veteran’s Day Parade which strode along Manhattan’s 5th Avenue at a brisk pace.

As the largest celebration of service in the United States, the New York City Veteran’s Day Parade, also referred to as “America’s Parade,” hosted three Grand Marshals who, in addition to their military service, also worked at Ground Zero following 9/11.

The Grand Marshals were: Port Authority Acting COO Stephanie Dawson, a New York Army National Guard colonel who commanded troops at Ground Zero on 9/11 and later served in Kuwait as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and in Iraq; New York Police Detective Nelson Vergara, who spent months working at Ground Zero and served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq; and New York Fire Department Battalion Chief Joseph Duggan, who responded on 9/11 and later served with the Army Reserve in Iraq, helping rebuild the Baghdad Fire Department.

Parade organizers estimate that this year’s Parade included 40,000 participants, with more than 250 US military groups, including Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force.

Soldiers who fought during World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War rode in military and vintage vehicles. This year’s parade theme also honored the 15th Anniversary of 9/11 with special recognition afforded to veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with New York City’s First Responders.   

The 2016 parade also featured a special commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the first Gulf War – Operation Desert Storm.

Among the most cheered of all the displays of patriotism occurred as two parade participants reenacted the famous “V-J Day in Times Square Kiss” as immortalized in the Alfred Eisenstaedt photo that depicts a US Navy Sailor kissing a woman in a white dress.     

Special NYPD Anti Terrorism units lined the parade route from 23rd Street along Fifth Avenue to its conclusion at 52nd Street to ensure public safety.

No arrests were reported!