Thursday, November 12, 2009

New York City Veteran's Day perspective

New York City Veteran's Day perspective
By Carrie C.

I received several responses to my cynical posting yesterday about Veteran's Day hypocrites. You know, those who view the holiday as an opportunity to shop instead of taking some time to honor our veterans. My favorite response follows here and is from my friend Carrie C. Thank you Carrie for this.

Walter Haan,,

New York City Veterans Day perspective: (although I was disgusted to see Banana Republic decked out in its Christmas finery last night)

The NYC Veteran's Day Parade is staging and starting in Madison Park and all along 26th Street; so at 8am it was my coffee cart guy and a lot of cops! 8:30 the classic cars assembled, getting their final polishings on this crisp fall day, first day I could smell leaves in the air! By 9am the Harley's where rolling in, thundering so that our 7th floor skyscraper windows shook! By 9:30 the soldiers from the armory, one block away, started lining the streets and we, the Americans in the office, took off for downstairs to walk around the block and "get coffee."

We headed west on 26th past the gleaming cars and the huge Harley's, thanking our way through throngs of Veteran bikers, age range 40 - 80+, and assembling 1/69th Infantry (our neighbors on Lexington Avenue).

We walked through Madison Park, surrounded by marching bands of all branches and a huge number of ROTC and High School ROTC groups waiting to march. To avoid a line of Marines (in full dress blues) marching past and saluting the memorial statue on the west side of the park, we moved onto the grass to let them pass, only to find ourselves behind the stage on Broadway where the televised start of the parade speeches was under way.

An order was barked, words unclear but a drum roll started, fading out as the Star Spangled Banner started; in an eerie and awe inspiring moment the only sound we could hear, as we were surrounded, was a swoosh, if you will, of 1,000+ arms moving to salute formation. We were frozen momentarily, recovered and then put hands to heart as the entire park stood statue still; even the lone errant delivery guy sensed something was up and paused to look around before continuing on his way, albeit much more slowly.

The band leaders and company commanders began to organize their troops, groups to head out of the park to 5th Avenue. We decided to get out of their way (even in parade mode, being faced with 1,000+ soldiers is a bit, well gulp!) and returned to our office, with a last glimpse of the crowds of supporters, waving their flags and their "We love you!" banners. It was then I realized with pride why I love my city.

I planned to share a briefer encounter with you but I returned to your email and as I sat at my 7th floor desk, I was still able to hear the beating of the drums from 5th Avenue, not in my head but through the window! I felt it very necessary to let you know that while yes, today will be celebrated by a serious amount of hypocrites grabbing their discount junk off the shelves of Wal-Mart, in NYC we honor veterans today for the right reasons!

Happy Veterans Day and thank you to all who have served, their families and those who support them!

Thank you, Carrie.

Copyright 2009 by Walter Haan,,


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