NEW YORK — Tens of thousands of Vietnam War veterans today formed the biggest parade in the city's history, marching across the Brooklyn Bridge and down Broadway in a lavish ticker-tape "welcome home" that was 10 years late.
Tons of ticker tape and confetti, obliterating street signs in a blizzard of white, showered down on the 25,000 veterans as they wound through the financial district at the lower tip of Manhattan.
Most of the veterans were dressed in remnants of their uniforms--many of them in jungle fatigues, and many wearing ribbons and medals. Some assembled with their former units, and there were cries of recognition and embraces, and exchanges of photographs and old jokes.
Mayor Edward I. Koch, who established the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission that organized the parade, led the march by pushing the wheelchair of John Beehon, a Medal of Honor winner who lost both legs in Vietnam in 1966. Also at the head of the march was Gen. William Westmoreland, who was commander of American forces in Vietnam.