Veterans Day Parade in New York



Since my childhood days I’ve always loved parades. My attraction for parades started when I used to attend the Peñafrancia Military Parade in my beloved Naga (and I hear it may break the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running parade). Memories of Naga cross my mind this morning as I gaze at the NYC Veteran’s Day Parade on TV.

Three things catch my attention as I watch:

First was a Korean war veteran who refused to talk to a reporter about his experience during the Korean War. When asked why, he said, “How can you talk about it when you were just talking to a soldier beside you and two seconds later you only see parts of him.”

Second was a reporter interviewing Hershel “Woody” Williams, survivor of the Battle of Iwo Jima and the last living Medal of Honor awardee from that battle. He is now in his nineties and one of the Grand Marshalls of the parade.

Third was President Donald Trump back in New York City delivering a short speech to kick off the annual Veterans Day Parade.

Veterans Day in the US was formerly known as Armistice Day commemorating the end of the First World War. The parade was meant to welcome returning US servicemen who fought with their allies against the Germans in Europe.

This great war was also called the “war to end all wars.” But this was supervened upon by the outbreak of WW II in 1939. After WW II the name was changed to Veterans Day.

Today, November 11, more than 25,000 people participated to celebrate the 100th Veterans Day Parade in NYC making it the largest of its kind in America.

Parades are common in NYC and none are more spectacular than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – a parade with giant floating balloons of favorite comic Superheroes and actual Hollywood stars.

As I think about these two different parades my mind wanders to comparisons between the noble soldiers of yesteryear who risked their lives for their country and the over-the-top timeless superheroes of fictional comic books.

Captain Florentino Ferrer (the father of my bosom classmate Denny from Naga) who I can’t help but draw comparisons to the Avenger’s own Iron Man, was a valiant heavy artillery officer in the battle of Bataan. He also survived the Bataan Death March. Then there’s the burley tall guerilla scout named Joseph D’Salva who at only 16 years old at that time, carried my badly wounded father Marianing Aureus several kilometers away to their Tankongvaca Guerilla makeshift hospital. Something a feat only the Incredible Hulk would be able to perform! And the third name that quickly comes to my mind is Lieutenant Panopio who risked his life so courageously, was captured and forced to endure the Bataan Death March as well. The fact that he was able to survive such a grueling trial makes me wonder if he somehow has the same superhero abilities as the beloved, rough and rugged X-Man named Wolverine.

My mind draws these analogies, but I know deep in my heart that there truly is no comparison. These real superheroes are only a few of the men who laid the foundation of our freedoms with their real blood, their real sweat, and their real tears. And I am indebted.

Perhaps there won’t be any parades to watch in America were it not for the bravery of our veterans.

We who live in freedom will always be grateful to those who helped preserve it. The least we can do is to say “thank you for your service.”

Happy Veterans Day!