NEW YORK (PIX11) — The rain didn’t damper this year’s New York City Veterans Day Parade. More than 20,000 people marched up Fifth Avenue from 26th Street in Manhattan, including nearly 300 marching units.

Before the parade kicked off, there was a wreath-laying ceremony at the Eternal Light Flagstaff Memorial in Madison Square Park.

The grand marshal of the 103rd annual New York City Veterans Day Parade is Vince M. Patton III, a retired master chief petty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. Patton was the first Black American to hold that prestigious title.

“There are 17.4 million veterans in this country, and this parade [is] the granddaddy of them all. The way I look at it is this is the Veterans Day parade of the country,” Patton said about the honor of being selected grand marshal.

Mark Otto, the president and executive director of the United War Veterans Council, is the senior official of the parade.

“This is the largest parade in the country that honors veterans’ service. I think that’s significant because in the mid-80s this parade almost went extinct. If it were not for a handful of Vietnam veterans that said that will not happen, they set up the charter for the War Veterans Council and took the parade over,” Otto said. “We’ve just had 20 years of war, so it’s important that we remember our veterans of every generation who have fought for our freedom.”