The Department of Defense will observe Veterans Day at bases, deployed locations, and ships at sea as part of its worldwide observances.
In Philadelphia, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz will speak at a dedication ceremony marking the National Park Service's acquisition of Washington Square on Monday. Washington Square, located across from Independence Hall, is the largest burial site of Continental soldiers from Washington's Army and is thought of as a symbolic birthplace of the nation's military.
"There are currently more than 25 million living American veterans, many of whom put their lives on the line to preserve our freedoms," said President George W. Bush in his Veterans Day proclamation. "Our proud veterans have also helped to shape the American character. They have given us an extraordinary legacy of patriotism and honor, and their service represents the highest form of citizenship."
"Throughout a century of conflict and change, the courage and commitment of America's military men and women have never faltered," said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in his Veterans Day message. "Through every skirmish and battle, in every war in every era, they have remained dedicated to the strength and survival of our nation."
In his Veterans Day message, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard B. Myers noted that those serving in uniform today could look to the example set by veterans of wars past.
"Today we find ourselves in the midst of a non-traditional war against a very elusive enemy," Myers said. "Like those before us, we serve in demanding conditions, and our mission - like theirs - requires courage, vision and selflessness."
Veterans Day evolved from Armistice Day, which was primarily set aside to honor veterans of the First World War. In 1954, Congress enacted legislation replacing the word "Armistice" with "Veterans" as a way to honor all veterans.