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New York City 11/11/11 Veterans Day Parade
I recently had the honor of being invited by the Blue Star Mothers of America, to participate in New York City's Veterans Day Parade hosted by the United War War Veterans Council.   Over 22,000 people participated in the parade, and over 600,000 people lined the streets to watch.  The parade was also broadcast live by Fox News.
I can't tell you how great it was to meet so many Blue Star Mothers (and Dad's and other Family).  The weather had cooled but there was no stopping the parade!  Robin McCarthy (the current president of the National Chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America) and her husband drove from Ohio and brought with them some of the longest serving Blue Star Mothers!  A large number of Family members from the NY6 Chapter attended and marched in front of the Float.  The entire contingent was cheered to by the crowds as they marched down 5th Avenue. What an experience!
One of the most moving moments came just before we headed out into the Parade.  A group of young people wearing combat boots and carrying flags marched up alongside the Blue Star Families float, waiting for their turn to enter the parade.  Someone shouted "who are you?" to the group.  They showed us their sweatshirts which read "Step Into Their Boots."   
I learned that participants volunteer to continue a fallen service member's journey by taking a "step into their boots."   They commit to wearing the boots in memory of the fallen service member for a year, during that time performing community service. The boots they wear are respectfully decorated for the fallen soldier and include the service member's name, branch of service and date of the event.
One of the Blue Star Mothers on the float is also a Gold Star Mother. When she climbed off the float to get a better look, she glanced down and saw her son's name on the boots of a young woman preparing to march with the group in the parade.  Needless to say it was an emotional coincidence!
Thank you Robin for the invitation, and thanks to all the Blue Star Families for the warm NYC welcome!!!
Dave Smith
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