The Big Apple’s fabled Canyon of Heroes has served as parade route since 1886 honoring some of the nation’s biggest heroes—from Charles Lindbergh and his historic Atlantic flight to NASA astronauts like John Glenn along with some of the city’s winning sports teams.
Now one former congressman says it’s time to honor Iraq war veterans with a confetti-strewn parade that shows the nation’s gratitude for their role in liberating a dictatorship and serving with bravery and honor.
“These troops deserve nothing less,” says former U.S. Rep. Vito Fossella, who is calling on New York City to pay tribute to the military forces who have fought nonstop for democracy since 9/11.
“We have honored the Yankees, the Giants and other sports teams along with many others over the years but now I think it’s timely and appropriate to honor our brave men and women in the military,” Fossella said. “They deserve it more than any other group.”
Fossella, who represented Staten Island, said he has spoken about his parade idea with U.S. Rep. Peter King (R.-N.Y.) whose spokesman in Washington confirms that the New York lawmaker also supports a hero tribute in the city.
“No matter how anyone feels about the war… we are thanking them for their service,” King told NBC New York.
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn along with U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, have both publicly supported a parade as well.
Although New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office has yet to comment on such a celebration plan, Quinn said that the timing for festivities honoring troops should be left up to the Pentagon and veterans organizations.
“We owe them minimally a thank you in the New York way that we do it which is in part a parade in the Canyon of Heroes,” Quinn, a Democrat from the West Side, told the television station.
“The most respectful thing we can do is look to (the soldiers) to guide us to when the right time is.”
President Obama, in a speech to the nation, announced the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq. Even as about 48,000 U.S. troops remain in the Middle Eastern nation to help its government settle in under a new era, honoring those soldiers who have fought the last nine years for Iraqi freedom seems the right thing to do, particularly as 9/11 families now must wage a new battle against a mosque being built near Ground Zero—a symbolic eyesore, Fossella said.
“Ironically and coincidentally, that parade route is only a few blocks from Ground Zero”—traditionally moving along Broadway from downtown’s Hanover Square to City Hall, Mr. Fossella noted. “Our troops are in large part overseas because of that, fighting the war on terror.”
He added: “The war itself clearly was not the most popular engagement and it’s still opposed by many. But the universal cry has always been to support our troops. We have men and women who have served one, two, three tours of duty over there and when they come home, they deserve a hero’s welcome.
“I think this refocuses the debate on what’s important.”