Thousands of veterans, many in vintage uniform, marched up Fifth Avenue on Saturday in The Nation’s Parade, marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.
For World War II veteran Malcolm Smith, 73, of Tranquility, N.J., it was “the culmination of everything I stand for as an American.”
Other Veterans Day observances across the nation ranged from the solemnity of a presidential wreath-laying at Arlington, Va., to a parade in Boston and the rush of biplanes over San Francisco, where the Palace of the Legion of Honor reopened after a three-year renovation.
In New York, at least 33,000 veterans and troops took part in the parade on an overcast but mild day. Some shed tears, others tossed red, white and blue-wrapped candies into the crowd as flags flapped from skyscrapers and luxury hotels along the route.
F-16 jet fighters roared overhead and a line of military vehicles ranging from a World War II-era Sherman tank to Army Jeeps went up the route.
Marchers included crewmembers from the USS Kearsarge, who are credited with rescuing Air Force Capt. Scott O’Grady after he was shot down behind enemy lines in Bosnia.
The World War II veterans groups included U.S. Army Rangers and survivors of the Bataan Death March.
“I really feel and appreciate the crowd enthusiasm for our unit. It made you feel a little more important,” said Dante Mercurio of Marlboro, N.J., an Army veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor.
The parade got under way a very unmilitary 10 minutes late. A group of dignitaries marched near the head, including Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Gov. George Pataki and developer Donald Trump, the grand marshal who donated $200,000 toward the march.
Trump said he was pleased by the turnout. “I want them to see people care about the veterans,” he said.