Trump Will Return To NYC Monday For Veterans Day Parade
President Donald Trump will be skipping Veterans Day ceremony in Arlington again this year, opting instead to head up a memorial service in a town that has largely spurned him (and ultimately compelled him to embrace his true identity as a Florida Man). Yes, that’s right, Trump will “kick off” the NYC Veterans Day Parade next week.
The Associated Press reports that United War Veterans Council Chairman Douglas McGowan invited the president to our local parade, quite possibly as a formality: the sitting president always gets asked, but none has ever accepted, perhaps because there is plenty to do in and around Washington, D.C. There is, for example, the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, which Trump has never once attended, leaving veterans and military families alike feeling snubbed. Rightfully so: Not every president stops at Arlington on every Veterans Day they spend in office, but visiting the tomb is nonetheless a longstanding tradition.
Trump will once again be skipping the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington. Instead he will be at the NYC parade. He has not attended the Arlington Veterans Day events since he was elected. I. Just. Can’t.
— Stephanie Keegan (@warsnotover) November 6, 2019
Instead, Trump will spend Veterans Day 2019 giving a speech at Madison Square Park. According to the NY Times, he will not march in the parade (which launches at noon from 24th Street and 5th Avenue), nor will he lay a wreath at the Eternal Light Memorial inside the park, as was originally the plan. As the Times points out, “Mr. Trump is deeply unpopular in the city and his visits are often met with protests,” and while it’s presently unclear whether or not his appearance at the parade will encourage counter-demonstrations, it’s reasonable to expect his presence to steal attention away from the vets.
“This is going to politicize the NYC Veterans Day parade like it’s never been politicized before,” Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America and host of the Angry Americans podcast, tweeted. “Having Trump there will turn a day that is normally about unity, into a controversial, political spectacle.”
BREAKING. This is going to politicize the NYC Veterans Day parade like it’s never been politicized before. Having Trump there will turn a day that is normally about unity, into a controversial, political spectacle. https://t.co/H5DFycdldM
— Paul Rieckhoff (@PaulRieckhoff) November 6, 2019
Rieckhoff was not immediately available to elaborate on that sentiment, but in a follow-up tweet, described the idea that Trump has “been great supporter of our veterans and indeed this parade here in New York City for more than 25 years” — as parade co-producer Bill White noted to the NY Post — as “bullshit political spin.” Trump is very loud about his support for the military, but according to some who’ve actually served, he has proved chaotic, contradictory, and therefore even dangerous as its leader. And then, Trump frequently touts his love and respect for the vets, even as his policies undermine their access to health care and economic assistance programs.
Still, as the Post points out, Trump has given conditional aid to the parade in years past: When parade financing flagged in 1995, for example, he reportedly offered planners $200,000 in exchange for making him the Grand Marshal, a title the event’s organizers apparently declined to bestow. Trump, who avoided the draft during the Vietnam War because he claimed he had bone spurs in his heels, did once make a multi-million-dollar donation to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial downtown. He has also appeared to exploit these charitable donations as publicity ops, as was maybe the case in 2016, when Trump-the-candidate performatively skipped a Republican debate in order to host a high-profile fundraiser for veterans. He rallied $5.6 million, but rather than forking over the full sum, funneled half of it into his own charity.
Doug McGowan, chairman of the United War Veterans Council Board, insists that Monday will be “a day when we put politics aside to focus on honoring our veterans,” but Rieckhoff isn’t so sure.
“At least parade turnout will be high,” he tweeted. “Unfortunately, it’ll be because so many people will be there to protest Trump. I also expect many veterans will now boycott the parade entirely. This parade will now be a clusterfuck of historic magnitude.”