President Donald Trump laid a wreath and spoke at the start of the Veterans Day Parade in New York City Monday, becoming the first U.S. president to do so.

Thousands are expected to attend the city’s 100th parade to honor American military veterans. The parade is put on each year by the United War Veterans Council. Trump placed the wreath and spoke to the crowd at the Eternal Light Memorial.

“We pledge to always honor our veterans,” he said. “You are America’s greatest living heroes and we will cherish you now, always and forever.”

United War Veterans Council Chairman Douglas McGowan said Trump’s appearance should be viewed as an honor to military vets rather than any kind of a political statement.

“This is a day when we put politics aside to focus on honoring our veterans, and to recommit ourselves as a community to providing them with the services they have earned, the services they deserve and, for many, the services they were denied,” McGowan said.

Some 25,000 are expected to participate in Monday’s parade, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The mayor, who ended his Democratic presidential campaign in September, said Monday’s event should not be politicized.

“[The parade] should not be turned into a spectacle,” he said. “If he’s coming here to truly honor veterans, God bless him.”

Both the president and first lady Melania Trump attended Monday’s ceremonies in New York City. Trump had donated in the past toward the creation of the city’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Trump’s appearance at the parade Monday was the first by any American commander in chief.

“As far back as we can remember, no one has ever accepted our invitation,” Nick Angione, a member of the veterans council, said. “This year, very honored, very pleased, very excited President Trump has accepted.”

The parade is scheduled to begin at noon EST and will be streamed live by WABC-TV.

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