NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City and ABC7 honor the men and women who served with strength and courage on this Veterans Day.
The nation's largest Veterans Day event, the New York City Veterans Day Parade, returned for its 103rd year.
The long line of nearly 200,000 marchers stretched for a mile up a rain soaked Fifth Avenue Friday afternoon, including active-duty soldiers and sailors, servicemen and women from every branch of the armed forces, and veterans of every war since World War II.
"To me, it's like 'welcome home.' It's the welcome home we didn't get and this is terrific. It could pour all it wants, it doesn't really matter to me. This is my original poncho from Vietnam. This is my original poncho that I had in Vietnam. So I'm really thrilled to be here with these guys," Vietnam Veteran Fred Gasior said.
The parade was first organized to honor veterans of World War I, known as the war to end all wars. Now, it honors the veterans of all the wars that followed, some 17 million, nationwide.
This year's parade featured nearly 300 marching and vehicle units, including veteran groups, service providers, military units and more.
The first Black Master Chief Petty Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard was Grand Marshal of the parade.
Over the course of his 30-year career, Vince Patton visited 33 countries, sailed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and took part in more than 50 search and rescues, all while earning two bachelor's degrees, a Master's degree, and his Ph.D.
It has been an illustrious career highlighted further by the fact that at one point he was the most senior enlisted member of the Coast Guard.
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Produced by the United War Veterans Council (UWVC), the parade provides the public with the opportunity to salute our veterans and military and raises awareness for organizations working to serve their needs.
It is the centerpiece of an annual citywide effort to honor our veterans community.
Spectators were able to view the parade anywhere along Fifth Avenue from the step-off point on 26th Street to the end on 47th Street.
You can find more information on the New York City Veterans Day Parade website.
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