Across the nation, Americans are commemorating Veterans Day with parades, wreath-laying ceremonies, monument dedications and other events.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: GREEN PASTURES
Richard Velez is a veteran who makes it clear: He didn’t serve in a war, but he welcomed home family and friends — brothers all — who had seen “the beast” that is combat.
At the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen, Velez joined hundreds of others on Veterans Day. Velez, a 51-year-old from Dover who served with the Army from 1980-86, rode to the peaceful patch of land along the Merrimack River with a Vietnam vets motorcycle club.
“This is a place of brokenness,” he said. “Just being here, you find that peace that you’re looking for, that you need. And you feel less broken.”
Veterans — those who have seen combat and those who haven’t — take special solace in the cemetery’s green expanses, he said. They find their connection in the orderly rows of headstones that remember comrades from the Civil War to the present.
“It’s the brotherhood,” he said. “We never rest because of the beast we’ve seen. And once you’ve seen the beast, you can’t unsee it.”
VIRGINIA: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
President Barack Obama paid tribute to those who have served in the nation’s military, including one of the nation’s oldest veterans, 107-year-old Richard Overton.
“This is the life of one American veteran, living proud and strong in the land he helped keep free,” Obama said during a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
Overton was among those in the audience for the outdoor ceremony on a crisp, sun-splashed Veteran’s Day. Earlier in the day, Overton and other veterans attended a breakfast at the White House.
Obama used his remarks to remind the nation that thousands of service members are still at war in Afghanistan. The war is expected to formally conclude at the end of next year, though the U.S. may keep a small footprint in the country.
NEVADA: LAMENTING BUDGET CUTS
The Las Vegas parade, billed as the largest Veterans Day parade west of the Mississippi, took Nellis Air Force Base as its theme after government cuts led to cancellation of an air show there.
Floats featured zooming planes and trails of exhaust, and contingents of Air Force personnel and trainees marched at in powder blue uniforms at intervals during the procession.
Retired Air Force mechanic Mark Goldstom, 51, took his 14 year-old son to see the air show last year but spent Monday watching the parade from a lawn chair downtown.
“You don’t have the airplanes, the smell and things that you would at an airshow, but it’s still great,” he said.
Goldstom was more disturbed about the reason the air show was canceled this year.
“In my opinion, they shouldn’t cut any military or vet spending,” he said. “That’s the last thing they should cut.”
OKLAHOMA: A WALL OF HEALING
A retired Air Force colonel who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war says a new permanent wall commemorating Vietnam veterans in Enid will offer healing, love and unity.
Col. Lee Ellis was the keynote speaker at the dedication of the Woodring Wall of Honor and Veterans Park at Woodring Regional Airport in Enid. The wall had been part of a traveling exhibit but will now become Oklahoma’s official memorial to those who served in the Vietnam War. The wall is a smaller replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington.
Ellis was a Vietnam prisoner of war with Arizona Sen. John McCain. He says the wall will help ensure that the men and women who served are never forgotten.
NEW YORK: REMEMBERING 9/11
The memory of the Sept. 11 attacks surfaced at New York City’s Veterans Day parade, with families of World Trade Center victims carrying a giant American flag along Fifth Avenue amid shouts of “Don’t forget 9/11.”
“When I was first elected mayor, there was still smoke rising from the World Trade Center site,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a pre-parade wreath-laying ceremony. “And that was a very difficult time, when men and women in the armed forces were stepping up to confront new threats to ensure our safety.”
Organizers called the New York celebration, which has been renamed America’s Parade, the nation’s largest Veterans Day event.
WASHINGTON, D.C.: TUSKEGEE AIRMEN
Two of the original Tuskegee Airmen joined Washington, D.C., leaders for a Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony.
William Fauntroy Jr. and Major Louis Anderson, both of Washington, were honored during Monday’s ceremony at the city’s African American Civil War Memorial and Museum.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the district in Congress, presented Anderson with a bronze replica of the Tuskegee Airmen’s Congressional Gold Medal.
The 88-year-old Anderson was part of the ground support service for the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of black pilots who fought in World War II.
Fauntroy was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. He is the brother of Walter Fauntroy, Norton’s predecessor as the district’s delegate to Congress.