Sen. Charles Schumer took his push for a ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to Staten Island Wednesday. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
He's calling for a hero's welcome, New York-style, and that means ticker tape and throngs of people lining the streets.
On Wednesday, Sen. Charles Schumer took his push for a welcome home parade for returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans to veteran-rich Staten Island.
"Staten Island has a long history of people volunteering for the service," Schumer said. "Over 20,000 veterans here served in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's an amazing number."
The idea of hosting a welcome home celebration for recent veterans has its roots in 2011, with a suggestion from then-Staten Island City Councilman James Oddo and current City Councilman Vincent Ignizio.
The Department of Defense said it was too early to start planning such a parade because operations in Afghanistan were ongoing, but combat there is expected to wrap up at the end of the year, and three years have passed since the official end of the war in Iraq.
It is those milestones that have made conversation about a parade at the Canyon of Heroes begin again.
"This is just all about saying thank you, saying welcome home and saying a job well done," Ignizio said.
"Afghanistan and Iraq are two different animals, but we all went over for the same reason. So it's just long overdue," said Ann Treadaway, an Iraq veteran. "I'm sure a lot of people are just looking forward to this."
The Canyon of Heroes has hosted recent celebrations for the Yankees and the Giants, but in 1991, it was the site for a parade honoring troops returning from the Gulf War, and earlier, from Korea and World War II.
"We want to make sure it's in New York," said Assemblyman Michael Cusick of Staten Island. "No more fitting a place to go up Broadway past Ground Zero. No more fitting a place to have this parade than at that location."
Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the parade idea, but the city still needs that OK from the Department of Defense.
Schumer has vowed to take his campaign all over the state and to military officials to ensure that the parade becomes a reality next year.