President Trump honored U.S. veterans and declared it is now the country’s duty to “serve and protect them,” as he kicked off a ceremony before the 100th New York City Veterans Day Parade on Monday.
The president delivered remarks prior to a wreath-laying ceremony. Accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, he was the first sitting president to attend the event.
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“To each veteran of the war, the glory of your deeds will only grow greater with time,” Trump said, as he honored veterans in attendance, including World War II vets such as one of the parade’s grand marshals, Hershel “Woody” Williams.
And Trump reaffirmed the country’s commitment to those who served: “Now it is our duty to serve and protect them.”
The parade is organized by the United War Veterans Council. Trump has been a longtime supporter of the event, with The New York Times reporting that during the 1990s he pledged $200,000 and offered to raise money from friends in exchange for being named the parade’s grand marshal at the time.
The president noted Monday that it is fitting that the ceremony and parade take place in New York.
“Since the earliest days of our nation, New York has exemplified the American spirit,” Trump said, recalling New Yorkers who fought in wars going back to the Revolution.
Prominent New Yorkers in attendance included New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
The president also recognized Gold Star Families whose loved ones died for their country.
“To every Gold Star Family, we will stand by your side forever,” the president vowed.
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Trump also used the event to tout the strength of the U.S. military and the Oct. 26 death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, saying “al-Baghdadi is dead. His second in charge is dead. We have our eyes on number 3.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.