President Donald Trump will mark Veterans Day this year with a speech at the start of the New York City Veterans Day Parade, which would be the first time a sitting president has attended the event.
In past years, the commander-in-chief has typically attended events and memorial services around Washington, D.C. Organizers of the New York parade to Trump, a native New Yorker, several months ago, and White House officials announced Wednesday that he will attend.
The parade is one of the largest Veterans Day events in the country. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the annual event, and is expected to draw more than 25,000 participants along with tens of thousands of spectators.
The president is asking communities to celebrate and honor veterans throughout the month, not just on Nov. 11.
Organizers said even with the president’s involvement, they hope to keep the parade non-partisan.
“This is a day when we put politics aside to focus on honoring our veterans, and to recommit ourselves as a community to providing them with the services they have earned, the services they deserve and, for many, the services they were denied,” said Doug McGowan, chairman of the United War Veterans Council Board, which hosts the event.
But parade co-producer Bill White said in a statement that organizers will highlight Trump as “a great supporter of our veterans” at the event.
“What he is doing now as President with regard to veterans choice, funding our military, and holding them and their families in the highest regard is truly extraordinary,” he said. “He is loved by our veterans for sure.“
Trump said his travel schedule and official business stopped him from attending.
The event will be the second major national parade for Trump in the last four months. On July 4, the White House hosted a military-themed “Salute to America” on the National Mall in Washington D.C., which drew both praise for its focus and criticism over the costs.
Last year, Trump drew similar controversy when he declined to visit Arlington National Cemetery during the Veterans Day weekend, another unofficial tradition of the commander in chief.
Organizers said Trump will be accompanied at the parade by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger.