Throughout the Western world, November 11th is set aside to commemorate the anniversary of armistice, the signed treaty that put an end to World War I on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918. Today in the United States, November 11th is used to celebrate the sacrifices of all American veterans, living and dead.
President Barack Obama will be spending today honoring America’s veterans, while both the Senate and House of Representatives are in recess to commemorate the holiday.
The president started his day with a White House breakfast with a select group of veterans, including Robert Overton, who served in the South Pacific and at 107-years-old is the oldest still living American veteran. President Obama will then travel to Arlington National Ceremony to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The event starts at 11 a.m. and is free and open to the public, although space will probably be filled rather quickly.
During his weekly radio address on Sunday, President Obama expressed his thoughts on Veterans Day. “Thank you to that greatest generation who fought island by island across the Pacific, and freed millions from fascism in Europe,” he said. “Thank you to the heroes who risked everything through the bitter cold of Korea and the stifling heat of Vietnam. And thank you to all the heroes who have served since, most recently our 9/11 Generation of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Meanwhile, the District of Columbia will be specifically honoring the sacrifices of the Tuskegee Airmen this Veterans Day. Mayor Vincent Gray and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton are both scheduled to lay a wreath at the African American Civil War Memorial. Afterwards, a commemoration will be held for two Tuskegee Airmen who are D.C. residents at the African American Civil War Museum.
There will be a special ceremony honoring female veterans today as well as at the Vietnam Memorial. The 1 p.m. ceremony will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Retired General Colin Powell will be speaking at the ceremony.
“As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I spoke at the groundbreaking of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in 1993, so it will be especially poignant for me to speak this Veterans Day as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Women’s Memorial,” Powell said in an email to USA Today. “I most especially want to acknowledge the 11,000 women who served in Vietnam, mostly as nurses.”
[Image via Flickr]