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US honors military service on Veterans Day

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans Day 2007 poster.

Today, the United States is marking Veterans Day at various events across the country.

In Washington, D.C., many people observe the day by visiting the Vietnam War Memorial, which was opened 25 years ago. Later, a wreath-laying ceremony took place to honor military veterans buried at Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington.

In the Chicago area, the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital had a dedication ceremony, to commemorate a gift of 500 new wheelchairs from the Wheelchair Foundation and the Knights of Columbus. It provided an opportunity for soldiers of different generations to meet.

"It's an honor to shake hands with veterans who came before me," said Christian Tecson, to the Chicago Tribune. Tecson, 27, who is in the National Guard, served two tours of duty in Iraq with the Marine Corps. "They paved the way for us, and we're carrying on the tradition."

In Denver, like so many other cities, a parade was held on this day. However, the Denver United Veterans Council told a number of anti-war groups that they were not invited, regardless of whether they were also veterans groups. In the end, they were permitted to march in the parade, but got a mixed reaction from the crowd. "Leave your politics at home! This is about veterans, not politics," shouted Alex Cuellar.

Presidential candidate John McCain paid tribute to veterans at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery. McCain, in turn, received praise for his own service by the other speakers.

"The war and Iraq has divided America, but none of us is divided in our appreciation and our love and affection for those men and women in the military who are serving the cause of freedom," McCain said in his speech. "Some of us here were in another war where America was divided in their support and that made our challenge of welcoming and bringing home all of veterans all the harder."

George W. Bush awards the Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal on March 29, 2007
Veterans Day parade in Boston
Image: Paul Keleher..

In Boston, Massachusetts' Govenor Deval Patrick honored the five surviving Tuskegee Airmen. Patrick called them "heroic pioneers," as he presented them with the Congressional Gold Medal, which they were awarded in March. At the same event, Air Force Captain Jenny D’Olympia, an Iraq War veteran, led a tribute to women veterans.

President George W. Bush said in his weekly radio address: "America owes a debt of gratitude to all those who have served in our Armed Forces. On Veterans Day, we remember those who have served in previous wars, those who are serving today, and those who did not live to become veterans."

Veterans Day is largely intended to thank veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to United States national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served — not only those who died — have sacrificed and done their duty. It was first observed on November 11, 1919, a year after the Armistice with Germany, though then it was known as Armistice Day, which is observed in many other countries.


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