The annual NYC Veteran’s Day Parade usually brings New Yorkers together. This year, some protestors seemed determined to ruin it.

Volunteers with the New York City Veteran’s Alliance hold the “Ground Zero Flag” during a march through midtown Manhattan during the NYC Veteran’s Day Parade Nov. 11, 2017. The flag was flown over the site of the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, and was carried by military veterans from every branch. This year the United States Air Force was honored as the “Featured Service” during the parade. (Photo: New York National Guard)

Veteran’s Day holds a special significance in New York City, distinctively shaped by the city’s rich history, diverse population, and the enduring spirit of resilience that permeates its streets.

The city has a long-standing tradition of hosting the Veteran’s Day Parade, dating back over a century. As one of the oldest and largest parades of its kind in the nation, it has become deeply woven into the fabric of New York’s identity.

New York City prides itself on its history as a rich melting pot of cultures and backgrounds. The Veteran’s Day Parade has traditionally reflected this diversity by honoring and showcasing the contributions of servicemen and women from various ethnicities, communities, and walks of life.

The city’s resilience in the face of the 9/11 attacks left an indelible mark on the Veteran’s Day Parade. Since the terrible events of 9/11, the annual NYC Veteran’s Day Parade has served as a powerful tribute to the first responders, military personnel, and ordinary citizens who displayed extraordinary courage during that tragic time.

New Yorkers are also well known for their strong sense of patriotism, and this sentiment is vividly on display during the Veteran’s Day Parade. Each year, city streets are bedecked with American flags, and spectators enthusiastically participate, expressing gratitude to veterans and active-duty military members.

Over the years, Veteran’s Day, and the big parade in particular, has become a unifying event for New Yorkers, one that usually transcends differences and fosters a sense of shared appreciation for the sacrifices made by the nation’s veterans.

Not this year.

Since the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, pro-Palestine — and in some cases, pro-Hamas — demonstrations have shaken major cities around the world, including New York City.

The ongoing demonstrations and riots by anti-Israel protestors have resulted in many arrests and widespread damage to property throughout NYC. This Veteran’s Day weekend saw further scenes of disruption, violence, property damage, and criminal mischief.

Grand Central Station briefly shut down as large group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marches through Manhattan,” reported Alecia Reid for CBS News New York on November 10, 2023.

Pro-Palestine protestors destroyed American flags, vandalized public spaces, and undoubtedly prevented some ordinary New Yorkers from enjoying what is normally a celebratory time in the city.

Many New Yorkers were also upset that city schools didn’t observe the Veteran’s Day holiday this year.

NYC Veterans Day 2023: When is the parade? What streets are closed Saturday?” reported CBS, adding that, “the New York City Department of Education says public schools will remain open on weekdays before and after holidays that fall on weekends, including Veterans Day, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali and Lunar New Year.”

Despite the disruptions and controversy, thousands of New Yorkers still proudly marched in the New York City Veterans Day Parade.

9/11 didn’t put a stop to the storied annual celebration of the men and women who serve this nation in uniform — past, present, and future. And pro-Palestine demonstrators, however violent, disrespectful, or disruptive won’t do so either.

President Biden said it best this year:

“This Veterans Day, we honor the generations of women and men who have served and sacrificed — not for a person, a place, or a President — but for an idea unlike any other: the idea of the United States of America,” said the President on the occasion of Veteran’s Day 2023. “For nearly 250 years, our veterans have defended the values that make us strong so that our Nation could stand as a citadel of liberty, a beacon of freedom, and a wellspring of possibilities.”

“As a Nation, we have many obligations, but we only have one truly sacred obligation: to prepare and equip the brave women and men we send into harm’s way and to care for them and their loved ones when they return home,” Biden reminded Americans.

“This Veterans Day, may we honor the incredible faith that our veterans hold, not just in our country but in all of us,” said Mr. Biden. “They are the solid-steel backbone of our Nation, and we must endeavor to continue being worthy of their sacrifices by working toward a more perfect Union and protecting the freedoms that they have fought to defend.”

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)