Trump NYC Veterans Day speech met with protests

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE on Monday hailed the legacy of the American armed forces in a Veterans Day speech that came against the backdrop of protests and political turmoil that has engulfed his presidency.

Trump’s remarks at Madison Square Park in Manhattan were largely devoid of politics, but even in New York on Veterans Day the president could not entirely avoid the political headlines that have dogged him in Washington.

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Protesters spelled out the words "impeach" and "convict" in letters taped to the windows of a high-rise overlooking the park, and chants of “lock him up” were heard from the crowd. Public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry are scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Demonstrators gathered near the site of Trump’s speech to protest his presence and could be heard by attendees chanting “lock him up” and blowing whistles in the distance.

 

The speech came a few weeks after Trump announced his plans to reclassify his place of residence from New York City to Florida. 

The president has ripped into New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioNYPD creates special unit for far-right and neo-Nazi threats Mayor accuses de Blasio of dumping New York's homeless in Newark Conservatives must absolutely talk politics at the Thanksgiving table MORE (D) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) since sharing the decision, complaining that local leaders don’t treat him with respect. Last week, he criticized the state’s attorney general for what he described as a politically driven lawsuit involving his family charity. 

Trump acknowledged de Blasio at the outset of his remarks on Monday, but the substance of the president’s 20-minute speech largely steered clear of politics.

“This nation is forever in your debt, and we thank you all,” Trump said in the speech. “You are the reason our hearts swell with pride, our foes tremble with fear, and our nation thrives in freedom.”  

Trump delivered opening remarks and laid a wreath at the 100th annual Veterans Day Parade in New York City, becoming the first sitting president to address the annual event. The president’s speech focused on the service of various military branches and the military accomplishments of his administration.

Trump cheered American special forces for carrying out the successful military raid that led to the death of elusive ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi weeks ago. 

“Thanks to American warriors, al-Baghdadi is dead. His second in charge is dead. We have our eyes on No. 3. His reign of terror is over, and our enemies are running very, very scared,” Trump said.

“Those who threaten our people don’t stand a chance against the righteous might of the American military,” he continued. 

Trump, who was joined by first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpWhite House on Greta Thunberg: Trump, first lady communicate differently The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — Judiciary Democrats approve articles of impeachment setting up House vote next week Michelle Obama encourages Greta Thunberg after Trump attack: 'Ignore the doubters' MORE, recognized a World War II veteran and the granddaughter of a veteran who served in the Battle of the Bulge. He highlighted last week’s honor for Rick Rescorla, a Vietnam veteran who died while directing the evacuation of the South Tower on 9/11.

“The men and women who have donned our nation’s uniforms are the bravest, toughest, strongest and most virtuous warriors ever to walk on Earth,” Trump told the crowd.  

“You left your families and fought in faraway lands. You came face-to-face with evil and you did not back down. You returned home from war and you never forgot your friends who didn’t return, including prisoners of war and those missing in action,” the president continued. 

The president laid a wreath at the Eternal Light Memorial in the park at the conclusion of his remarks.

Trump last year faced criticism for opting not to visit Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, as most presidents have done in the past.

The president was in Paris for the official holiday last year to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, but he had no public events scheduled upon his return to Washington. He later acknowledged he should have made a trip to the cemetery to commemorate Veterans Day.

Vice President Pence spoke at Arlington on Monday.