It’s the nation`s largest celebration of our brave service men and women; the New York City Veterans Day Parade, also known as “America`s Parade.”
Through a partnership with the United War Veterans Council, PIX11 will be broadcasting the parade this Friday. This year it will feature three Grand Marshals—
Nelson Vergara is one of New York’s Finest, a war veteran and one of the Grand Marshals in this year’s Veterans Day Parade.
"Being selected to be a Grand Marshal is a huge honor," Vergara said. "I'm very humbled by it."
This decorated officer enlisted in the Marines when he was just a teenager.
"I needed to find myself at that point," he remembered.
Little did he know he would find much more than he expected.
"It’s a huge responsibility, its not for everyone because it’s a huge sacrifice," he said. "I was assigned to Guantanamo Bay and I tell you what it was a wake up call of devotion to duty, honor, courage and commitment and I realized my calling was to enlist."
In fact, after 9/11 he returned to the service.
"That was one of the moments I knew I had to do more," he said. "I was trying to function as a New York City police officer and I kept thinking, I don’t know why I’m still here so I spoke to my family, I reenlisted and went to Iraq."
The combat cross on Vergara’s uniform isn’t from gunfire in Iraq though, but, from getting wounded on the streets of New York.
"I was walking home and I had just finished my tour of duty," Vergara described.
He noticed a group of people getting loud and disturbing the neighborhood so he tried to quiet them down. That's when a car stopped and the person inside got out and opened fire.
"As I am running for cover I get shot in the leg," he said. "We had an exchange of gunfire, which is when I received a second gun shot wound to my shoulder."
Lieutenant Vergara made a full recovery and is now assigned to the NYPD Intelligence Division.
"Everything that I have done overseas, going on these combat missions and to know that something like this can happen in front of your own door step, I have no words for it," he said about how things are now.
And despite what happened, from what this veteran saw around the world, there is no place he would rather be than here at home.
"Being in that type of situation where it’s life and death where you can be gone in seconds, it's just a reminder of how good we have it," he said.
PIX11 will have full coverage of the parade from noon until 3pm, also streaming online at PIX11.com