Trump to kick off NYC Veterans Day Parade, offer tribute

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will be speaking at the opening ceremony of the New York City Veterans Day Parade next week, organizers and the White House announced Wednesday.

United War Veterans Council Chairman Douglas McGowan said Trump will offer a tribute to veterans at the opening ceremony of Monday’s 100th annual parade. While presidents have always been invited to the parade, McGowan said that, as far as he knows, Trump is the first to accept.

The announcement comes just days after Trump announced that he has officially changed his residency from New York to Florida, where he owns several properties, including the Mar-a-Lago club, where he spends many winter weekends.

The Republican president was born in Queens and his brand has long been synonymous with the city. But he is deeply unpopular in the liberal bastion and has bashed New York’s politicians for treating him badly.

Trump, who did not serve in the military, has been a longtime promoter of the parade.

During the 1990s, he pledged a donation of $200,000 and offered to raise money from friends in exchange for being named the parade’s grand marshal, The New York Times reported at the time. He also donated toward the creation of the city’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

“This is a day when we put politics aside to focus on honoring our veterans, and to re-commit ourselves as a community to providing them with the services they have earned, the services they deserve and, for many, the services they were denied,” McGowan said in a statement.

After his remarks, the president will lay a wreath at the Eternal Light memorial in Madison Square Park, White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

More than 25,000 parade participants, including veterans, active-duty military personnel and their supporters, are expected to march along Fifth Avenue during this year’s event.

At last year’s parade, marching bands played patriotic songs and onlookers waved American flags. That parade commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

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Follow Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj

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