Troops, pol push for NYC parade for Iraq veterans
In the same week that fans flooded the Canyon of Heroes for the Giants' Super Bowl bash, some Iraq veterans are wondering: Where's our New York parade?
"One would be great and ... there should be some recognition," said Jonathan Frangakis, a Marine from midtown who served in Iraq from 2008-09.
While he's not expecting or demanding a ticker-tape celebration, Frangakis, 31, said they are simple tributes that troops deserve.
"At the Marine Corps Ball, we always keep an empty table set for those we've lost. An empty float during a parade could mean the same," he said.
While the idea for a parade in the Big Apple has earned bipartisan political support, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he's following the wishes of the Pentagon, which believes now is not the time while troops are still fighting in Afghanistan.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn supports a city tribute, telling MSNBC on Tuesday that "If there are other ways the veterans think we should do it, I am open to hearing that, but I want to make sure this moment does not pass us by."
Former Mayor Ed Koch also called for a parade in the city.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is pushing an online petition, which had more than 19,450 names yesterday, to convince President Barack Obama and mayors around the country to agree on a day to honor the more than 1 million Americans who served in Iraq.
The war ended with little fanfare in December after eight years, the death of 4,484 troops and more than 30,100 wounded solders.
Mike Abrams, a Marine who served in Afghanistan in 2005, said arguing over a parade seems "silly," and the money could be better used helping wounded vets.
"I legitimately think that everyone's hearts are in the right place," said Abrams, 31, of midtown. "But there are still veterans who are suffering and need treatment."
Whatever is decided to honor the troops, it makes sense for Gotham to be the main staging ground for the festivities, said Stephen Ortiz, an assistant U.S. history professor at Binghamton University.
"Americans still see Sept. 11 for shaping the wars and still see New York City as a final stop," Ortiz said.