11/8/2013, "How New York's Veterans Day Parade Became 'America's Parade'," Business Insider, Brian Jones
|5th Ave, NYC|
United Veterans War Council President Vince McGowan recently spoke with Business Insider about how the organization came to exist, and how it has grown the New York City Veterans Day Parade into the largest in the nation.
It all started when McGowan, as a Marine sergeant, returned home from the Vietnam War in 1968. He returned to a home that no longer heralded military service.
"I got home from Vietnam in '68 to a very unwelcome country and an ungrateful nation," McGowan said.
McGowan said that back then, Vietnam vets were barred from many of the organizations that existed for veterans, which were largely run by World War II and Korea War veterans.
"They said that Vietnam wasn't a war," McGowan said.
Eventually, in 1986, he decided to form his own group. Joining with a World War II vet and a Grenada vet, he named it the United Veterans War Council, after an organization that originally existed after the War of 1812.
"For me, it was personal," McGowan said. "I'm certainly not someone who shrinks from a fight." McGowan said that from the outset, there was only one criteria that determined whether you could be a part of the UWVC--"Did you serve honorably?" "It had nothing to do with anything else," he said.
Then, in 1987, The American Legion decided to stop producing New York's Veterans Day parade, in part, McGowan said, because of the controversy surrounding gay veterans who wanted to participate.
And so the UWVC took the helm. McGowan described those days as "25 guys with a snare drum marching down 5th Avenue."
But soon the UWVC, and the New York Veterans Day parade began to grow, in part because of a $1 million matching donation from Donald Trump, and the parade began to grow.
"We were vindicated in taking a hard stance against popular opinion."
The tide really turned in 1995, the 50th anniversary of World War II. This quote from the archives of the New York Times nails it: "In recent years, Veterans Day observations have become desultory at best, with spectators often limited to passers-by walking their dogs or heading out for a quart of milk."...
Then on Sept. 11, 2001, the world changed, and suddenly, the New York-based veterans group had unprecedented power and influence.
"The country goes to war and everyone starts to pay attention," McGowan said.
Now, the UWVC operates what McGowan calls a year-round endeavor."...
Image above from Business Insider article
Jan. 2016, "Turns Out Trump May Have Done More to Help Veterans’ Causes Than Previously Thought," Independent Journal Review, Katie Lapotin
In 1995 Trump donated to a NY parade commemorating the end of World War II:
11/11/1995, "More than 500,000 watch Nation's Parade," UPI
"More than 500,000 people jammed the sidewalks of Manhattan's Fifth Avenue Saturday to watch three generations of veterans march in the Nation's Parade. The crowd cheered as 25,000 veterans marched in one of the last national events marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II....
Police estimated 500,000 people attended the largest military parade ever held in New York. Organizers, who placed the turnout at closer to a million, said the parade would not have been a success if it hadn't been for real estate developer Donald Trump, who contributed $200,000 and raised another $300,000. 'Donald Trump saved the parade,' said parade director Tom Fox, himself a Vietnam veteran. 'We had asked for donations from 200 corporations, and none of them came through,' he said. 'This donation is the single most important thing I've ever done,' said a beaming Trump. 'This is more important than all of my buildings and my casinos. This is my way of saying thank you to all the men an women in the armed services who have made it possible for me to become a success. Without them freedom and liberty would be gone.'"...