New York, NY - April 15, 2014 - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, along with local veteran leaders, launched his campaign to have the first welcome home parade for America’s post 9/11 troops in New York City. Specifically, he urged the Department of Defense (DoD) to work with the city of New York to begin planning such a critical event for our returning troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout history, the United States has held a parade in New York City for troops returning home from war, but one has yet to be planned for Iraq or Afghanistan veterans. With the combat mission in Afghanistan winding down by the end of 2014, and the Iraq war having officially ended in 2011, Schumer today said that it is the time to begin planning a welcome home parade so that these heroes do not have to wait any longer for this honor. DoD’s approval and involvement in this first-ever welcome home parade for post-9/11 soldiers and vets in New York City could mean involvement of prominent military officials, joint military color guards, military bands, flyovers and more.
Schumer stood along the historic “Canyon of Heroes” route in Lower Manhattan and was joined by Vincent McGowan, Vietnam Marine veteran and founding president of the United War Veterans Council of New York, representatives of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) as well as local veterans of all ages.
“With the war in Afghanistan winding down, now is the time to keep with long-standing American tradition and kick off a campaign for the first New York City welcome home parade for troops that served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Senator Schumer. “In years past, we’ve honored our troops with a parade along the iconic ‘Canyon of Heroes’ route and those who served in these post-9-11 wars also deserve a hero’s welcome – and New York is the only place to do that. With the completion of the Afghanistan combat mission expected at the end of this year, and with Iraq’s official end far behind us, it’s time for New York to stake its claim and for the Department of Defense to join in planning this welcome home celebration.”
Vincent McGowan, founding president of the United War Veterans Council of New York said, “New York City is the best place – the only place – to host a national welcome home parade for the latest generation of veterans. Thank you to Senator Schumer for leading this crusade to honor and welcome home all the brave men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The Iraq war officially ended on December 31, 2011. The combat mission in Afghanistan is expected to be complete by the end of 2014. In referring to Afghanistan, President Obama stated in his 2014 State of the Union address, “together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year and America’s longest war will finally be over.” Defense Secretary Hagel also recently referred to the fact that, “…we look ahead to the end of our combat mission later this year.” DoD believes a parade should not occur until combat operations in Afghanistan are complete, however, Schumer said the time is now to begin planning.
After each war in our modern history, welcome home parades have occurred along New York City’s “Canyon of Heroes” in Lower Manhattan. One has yet to be planned for Iraq or Afghanistan. New York City held a ticker-tape parade in 1946 following the end of World War II. In fact, several ticker-tape parades were held during WWII to honor the troops while generals and admirals continued fighting. Although ten years after the Vietnam War ended, New York City held a parade honoring those vets in 1985. In 1991, the U.S. threw a victory parade for Gulf War veterans.
Schumer today launched a campaign to have the official post-9/11 welcome home parade in New York City. Schumer called on the DoD to work with the city of New York in planning a parade for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan post-9/11. DoD decides whether organizer requests for parades can have DoD participation. In 2012, the Pentagon said that it was too early for a NYC parade because the Afghanistan mission was not nearing completion. With their involvement, DoD would provide joint military color guards, military bands, troop formations, equipment and flyovers. Schumer explained that in years past we have honored our veterans and with the war in Afghanistan winding down, now is the time to start planning a post-9/11 parade.