November 11 is Veterans Day in the United States, and parades, ceremonies and tributes to veterans and their families were carried out throughout the country to honor those who have served, and are currently serving, in the U.S. military.
“In an unbroken line of valor stretching across more than two centuries, our veterans have charged into harm’s way, sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice, to protect the freedoms that have blessed America,” said President Obama on Veterans Day 2010.
This year, as always, the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, just outside Washington, remained the focal point for national Veterans Day ceremonies. The traditions are firmly established: A combined color guard representing all military services executes “present arms” at the tomb, the president lays a wreath, and a bugler plays “Taps,” the haunting bugle call used at U.S. military funerals.
In 1958, two unidentified American war dead, one from World War II and one from the Korean War, were buried in Arlington National Cemetery alongside the Unknown Soldier from World War I. In 1984, an unknown serviceman from the Vietnam War was placed beside them. They symbolize all Americans who gave their lives in all wars. (The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were exhumed in 1998; he was identified through DNA testing and reinterred in another cemetery. Since then, that crypt has remained vacant.)
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Veterans Day: U.S. Military Veterans Honored Each November