Veterans Day marked with parades and some somber ceremonies
Americans honored their military veterans Saturday with a parade in the wintry cold of New York City, where one World War II vet thanked onlookers for remembering and in a somber ceremony in a Texas community bloodied by a church massacre where almost half of those killed had ties to the U.S. Air Force.
Across the Atlantic, millions of people in Britain and France paused to remember war victims as they marked Armistice Day, which this year was the 99th anniversary of the end of World War I.
In parks, war memorials, football fields and on streets across the United States, politicians and citizens gathered to thank those who have served in the nation’s armed forces.
NEW YORK CITY
In New York City, which hosts the largest Veterans Day parade in the country, astronaut Buzz Aldrin served as grand marshal, joining Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Air Force’s highest-ranking woman at Saturday’s parade.
“It’s beautiful, so many people,” said Aldrin, who rode in a convertible and waved to the crowds gathered on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Aldrin, 87, served in the Air Force and was the second man on the moon, piloting the Apollo 11 and following Neil Armstrong onto the lunar surface in 1969.
Air Force Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski also attended, along with hundreds of other veterans who marched in the cold. One of the World War II veterans who rode in a float held a sign that read “Thank you for remembering.”
Also in New York state, state and local officials said a new monument will honor African-American military veterans and will be built in Buffalo’s waterfront, alongside other memorials.
In Washington, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, carried orange buckets with the message “Let’s Do This” to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, joining several dozen volunteers to give it a cleaning.
The Pences spent about 40 minutes just after dawn Saturday wiping down the memorial wall engraved with the names of fallen soldiers.
In Sutherland Springs, Texas, a Veterans Day ceremony outside a community center was grim as about 100 people gathered under cloudy skies, honoring the more than two dozen people killed a block away at a church last Sunday.
An Air Force official has said 12 of the massacre victims had direct connections to the Air Force, “either members or with family ties.” Sutherland Springs is near Lackland Air Force Base.
Wilson County Judge Richard Jackson’s voice broke as he thanked the first-responders and others who rushed to the First Baptist Church, saying the scene will affect them the rest of their lives.
BRITAIN AND FRANCE
Across Britain, people stopped in streets, squares and railway stations for two minutes of silence starting at 11 a.m. At that moment – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – World War I ended 99 years ago, on Nov. 11, 1918.
In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron laid a wreath at the statue of wartime French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, a key architect of peace between the great powers. Macron then inspected French troops and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe. Former French Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande also attended the ceremony attended by a large crowd in drizzly weather.
Many Britons wore red paper poppies, symbolizing the flowers that bloomed amid the carnage of WWI’s Western Front.