Although the annual parade in New York City wasn't able to happen this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Eyewitness News proudly brought a Veterans Day ceremony special Wednesday at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in Manhattan.
Earlier in the day, the great folks at the United War Veterans Council, who produce the event every year, made sure the parade flavor was still alive.
A motorcade of 120 vehicles rolled down the traditional Fifth Avenue parade route, featuring representatives from regular parade participants.
It was a predawn convoy just how the soldiers like it -- some military trucks and equipment. The event lasted only 20 minutes, but meant a lot to the vets involved.
Organizers wanted to avoid traffic and the possibility of attracting crowds, so they started at 6 a.m. near 41st and 5th Avenue. The motorcade ended at Madison Square Park where a wreath laying took place at the Eternal Light Flagstaff.
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A socially distanced ceremony was held on the deck of the USS Intrepid to honor our heroes.
Meanwhile, homelessness, joblessness and mental health are all struggles some of our veterans face every day and the pandemic has exacerbated these challenges.
But the racial disparity exposed by COVID means these veterans need our support more than ever.
"All veterans but especially with minority veterans, were faced with hardships that were hard but increased because of the pandemic," said Wendy McClinton with Black Veterans for Social Justice. "Lack of food, families having now to deal with children at home when they normally did not have to do that. The VA system shut down and not being able to go to their programs that they normally go to, that keep their mental health, that their life stabilized."
And let's not forget how members of our military were there for this city during the darkest days of the pandemic.
"And I want to offer a special thanks from the people of New York City to ... all the members of the military who were here for us in our toughest times this spring in this city when we were the epicenter of the COVID crisis," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "I want us to remember how our military was here for us. I want us to remember how the USNS Comfort came into our harbor, how that gave us hope. How that gave us the belief we would overcome that challenge."
Eyewitness News reporter CeFaan Kim happens to be an Army Reserve veteran and wants to remind folks that many of our reservists and national guardsmen also happen to be MTA workers, nurses, doctors, police officers, and FDNY EMTs.
So when you thank a veteran on Wednesday, you might also be thanking a frontline essential worker.
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