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Guest of Honor Gen. John F. Kelly, Commander of U.S. Southern Command, speaks during the opening ceremony of New York City's annual Veterans Day Parade at Madison Square Park November 11, 2014. The parade, also known as America's Parade, highlights a different service each year. This year, the Marines were showcased for their legacy and traditions, which date back 239 years.

Photo by Cpl. Fareeza Ali/USMC

Marines take over NYC for Veterans Day

14 Nov 2014 | Cpl. Fareeza Ali The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

More than 600,000 spectators lined the streets of Manhattan on the morning of Veterans Day. 

With flags of red, white and blue in hand, the supporters of America’s veterans, some of whom are veterans themselves, screamed, shouted, clapped and cheered at the 95th annual Veterans Day Parade, also known as America’s Parade.

“Veterans Day is the time to give thanks to all the legacy, instruction and discipline veterans have instilled in us, especially the Marine Corps, but in all the branches of the armed forces,” said Major General Michael R. Regner, Director of Marine Corps Staff.

Each year, the city of New York highlights a branch of service for the parade and surrounding events. The Marines, who just celebrated their 239th birthday just a day before, were honored this year.

“I think every Marine, whether they’re a general or a recruit, could say that 239 years of heritage, discipline and esprit de corps is what we’re all about,” said Regner. “Our nation has been so gracious to the Marine Corps, and we have given so much back - to our nation, our fellow service members and our families.

“For 239 years, our families have been with us, supporting us and giving everything as we went off and did the business of our nation.”

The day began with two celebrations featuring U.S. Marine guests of honor. The first event was a Veterans Day breakfast with the Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio. He recognized and thanked the local Marines as well as all other veterans for their service to the city and the country. Regner attended the breakfast as the guest of honor.

On the other side of the city, General John. F. Kelly, the Commander of U.S. Southern Command, took to Wall Street as he attended the second event, a cake-cutting ceremony and the ringing of the New York Stock Exchange’s opening bell. 

Afterwards, both generals made their way to the opening ceremony for the Veterans Day Parade. Kelly spoke at the opening ceremony.

“The Marine Corps is made up of people, who step forward when they don’t have to, to protect the country, which they love whether they do two years or 44,” Kelly said. “That’s really and truly one of the things which makes us, I think, so special.

“We revere every Marine that ever came before us, and that includes our Navy corpsmen. We revere them, we almost worship them, and we know we stand on their reputation. We would never ever let them down. They’re deserving of thanks and that’s what Veterans Day is all about.”

Participating Marines included 6th Communications Battalion, the Quantico Marine Corps Band, 1st Marine Corps District and 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines.

The parade featured more than 20,000 participants, including veterans of all eras, active duty personnel, ROTC and JROTC students, civic and youth groups, and organizations aimed at supporting and helping America’s veterans. 

New York City native Alexis Fowler makes it a point to attend the parade every year, regardless of weather, crowds and inconvenience.

“I want to make sure that all of the veterans know that we’re still here supporting them, that we remember,” Fowler said. “They say ‘freedom is not free’ and we absolutely believe that.”