More than 700,000 veterans call the commonwealth home. Here are some opportunities to celebrate them this week.
Veterans Day falls on Nov. 11 each year. The significance of the date goes back to World War I.
While the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on June 28, 1919, officially brought an end to the war, fighting had stopped seven months earlier on Nov. 11, 1918 when an armistice, or temporary ceasefire, was agreed to.
President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919, as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. Between that time and the 1970s, when the day was celebrated, as well as the name, changed.
Today, the US Department of Veterans Affairs describes Veterans Day as, “A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”
With the day fast approaching, Virginians may be asking themselves what they can do to celebrate. Here you will find some of the commonwealth’s major Veterans Day parades you can attend, as well as memorials you can visit.
National D-Day Memorial
The National D-Day Memorial commemorates June 6, 1944, the day the United States invaded the French coastline in World War II.
For those who don’t know the story, it may seem odd that a national monument would be located in a town of less than 7,000 people. Bedford supplied a company of 30 soldiers for the invasion. By the end of the day, 19 of the soldiers had died. Proportionally, Bedford experienced the worst loss of any community on D-Day.
Dedicated in 2001, the monument was “constructed in honor of those who died that day, fighting in one of the most significant battles in our nation’s history.” The memorial encompasses more than 50 acres, with a 40-foot arch at the center. A reflecting pool depicts soldiers making their way onto the beaches of Normandy.
The monument commemorates each Veterans Day with a special event. This year, Maj. Gen. Antonio Munera, a Virginia native withmore than 30 years of service, will be the keynote speaker. In September, he took command of U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox in Kentucky.
The observance will be on Friday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. Admission to the monument that day will be free from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Those who attend are encouraged to bring their own chairs.
Even if you can’t make it to the observance, the monument is well worth making a daytrip for. You can choose between going on a guided or self-guided tour, which takes approximately one hour. If you opt for the self-guided tour, the monument has a smartphone app that provides insights into the monument. The monument is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony
This year marks the 66th annual Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial. The ceremony, which honors the commonwealth’s men and women who have served and who are currently serving, will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 11.
There will be guest speakers and patriotic music.
Those who can’t make it can still celebrate the day by listening to the live broadcast on WTVR CBS6 or watch a livestream on the Virginia War Memorial’s Facebook page.
Before or after the ceremony, be sure to take in all that the Virginia War Memorial has to offer. There, you will find the Shrine of Memory that honors the fallen and multiple exhibit halls. You can also watch a number of 20-minute documentaries. Admission to the memorial, which is open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12-4 p.m. on Sundays, is free.
Tidewater Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony
Location: Virginia Beach
Those in the coastal part of the commonwealth can pay tribute to and honor local veterans by attending the annual Tidewater Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony in Virginia Beach at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 11.
Hosted by the Hampton Roads Council of Veterans Organizations, more than 120 units, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard units, will march and perform during this year’s parade. Veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom will also participate.
Grand marshals for this year’s parade include local mayors and a retired Navy captain.
After the parade, there will be a formal ceremony at the Tidewater Veterans Memorial. Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer will be the keynote speaker.
The design of the memorial represents how war tears at the fabric of the world. “The spherical shapes have cut-out centers to denote the emptiness that war leaves in its wake,” a description from Virginia Beach Public Art reads. “The waterfall represents the turmoil that war causes while its motion stands for the pursuit to bring people together.”
Virginia’s Veterans Parade
In Southwest Virginia the Virginia’s Veterans Parade will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12 in downtown Roanoke.
Attendees who arrive early will be able to thank a veteran for their service at 9:30 a.m. in the Market Building. Both events are free.
If you can’t make it; you can still watch the parade on WSLS 10.
Donate to a Veterans Organization
If attending a Veterans Day event isn’t for you but you’d still like to recognize the day, consider donating to an organization that makes a difference in the lives of veterans.
Located in the small rural town of Buchanan, New Freedom Farm is a unique nonprofit that combines the task of healing veterans who suffer from trauma, depression and substance abuse and saving horses from abandonment and slaughter.
A donation to New Freedom Farm this time of year would go a long way as it holds a free yearly Thanksgiving meal in a barn for veterans who would otherwise celebrate the holiday alone.