NEW YORK, Nov. 11 -- More than 500,000 people jammed the sidewalks of Manhattan's Fifth Avenue Saturday to watch three generations of veterans march in the Nation's Parade. The crowd cheered as 25,000 veterans marched in one of the last national events marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. The mood of the parade was festive despite the blustery weather, with marching veterans smiling and onlookers shouting 'Thank you.' 'It's just a great day to see all the people here to honor our veterans,' said Paul Bucha, a 52-year-old Vietnam War veteran and winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor. 'For too many years this day was ignored by too many people, but now we have it back in perspective,' he said shortly after a 21-gun salute rattled the windows of Manhattan apartment buildings. 'I think in the future Veteran's Day will be bigger and bigger.' 'I feel good; this is a great day,' said 109-year-old Herbert Young, a World War I veteran who participated in the parade. Freida Schwartz, who stood in the first row of the crowd packed five and six deep, was among those who tossed roses in the path of the 82nd Airborne. Her son, David, died shortly after the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. 'My son was in the 82nd Airborne, and I wanted to throw these flowers to them,' said the 82-year-old Brooklyn woman. 'I want to let the survivors know we care.
This is in memory of my son.' The veterans appeared to appreciate the gesture. 'I just had to come here,' said Victor Sexton, a Long Beach, Calif., man who served with the 82nd Airborne. 'I was honored to serve this division, and I was honored to serve this country.' Police estimated 500,000 people attended the largest military parade ever held in New York. Organizers, who placed the turnout at closer to a million, said the parade would not have been a success if it hadn't been for real estate developer Donald Trump, who contributed $200,000 and raised another $300,000. 'Donald Trump saved the parade,' said parade director Tom Fox, himself a Vietnam veteran. 'We had asked for donations from 200 corporations, and none of them came through,' he said. 'This donation is the single most important thing I've ever done,' said a beaming Trump. 'This is more important than all of my buildings and my casinos. This is my way of saying thank you to all the men an women in the armed services who have made it possible for me to become a success. Without them freedom and liberty would be gone.' Not all the people lining the parade route had the veterans as their top concern, however. 'What are all the crowds for?' asked an impressed 22-year-old Cathy Fleming, who was in New York from Princeton, N.J., for an upcoming marathon. 'Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. Good thing it wasn't tomorrow,' said Fleming, wearing jogging shorts and drinking a Perrier, when she was told about Veteran's Day. 'My father mentioned it. Maybe I'll stay and watch it for a while.'