National Leaders Participate in Vets Day Events
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2011 Today’s Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Veterans Day event highlighted ceremonies around the country honoring those who served in the armed forces.
President Barack Obama started the day hosting veterans at a White House breakfast in the East Room. Later in the day, he placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and spoke at the Arlington Memorial Amphitheatre.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represented the Defense Department and U.S. military at the ceremony.
The president will move on to San Diego, where he will sit with sailors aboard the USS Carl Vinson for the Carrier Classic, the kick-off of the NCAA basketball season. The game will feature the University of North Carolina taking on Michigan State.
In New York, military leaders joined hundreds of thousands of spectators in one of the country’s oldest and largest Veterans Day parades. The parade commemorated the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the 100th anniversary of naval aviation.
Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer, the nation's most recent Medal of Honor recipient, and Nicholas Oresko, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, joined the parade. Oresko, an Army veteran, received his award for actions during the Battle of the Bulge. He and Meyer were joined by four Vietnam veteran Medal of Honor recipients: Army Capt. Paul W. Bucha, Army Lt. Col. Bruce P. Crandall, Army Lt. Col. Alfred Rascon and Army 1st Lt. Brian Thacker.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno were among honorees at the New York parade.
Later today in New York, Vice President Joe Biden will speak at the unveiling of a statue entitled De Oppresso Liber – Free the Oppressed – the motto of Army Special Forces.
Commonly called the Horse Soldiers statue, it commemorates the bravery of Special Forces soldiers who first went into Afghanistan in 2001. The statue shows a Special Forces soldier riding an Afghan mountain pony. It will be displayed at the World Trade Center site.
Most cities and towns in the United States are remembering veterans on this 93rd anniversary of the armistice ending World War I. The guns stopped firing in Europe on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. The United States suffered 116,708 service members killed and another 205,690 wounded. Overall, the Great War was responsible for the deaths of more than 16.5 million people.
President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day in 1919.
Although World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars, it didn’t. In 1954, Congress enacted legislation changing the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.