Our Nation’s Capital: A City to Visit on Veterans Day

Ian Matz ’14
EE Staff Writer

Coming up around the corner is one of our nation’s most cherished days on the calendar. November 11th is celebrated as Veterans Day, a date dedicated to those who have sacrificed so much for their country. Even with the United States government coming out of a recent shut down, the city of Washington D.C. will carry out its annual Veterans Day events.
The holiday was established in the early twentieth century to celebrate the end of World War I, formerly known as “the War to end all wars.” Each year since, parades, public speaking, and ceremonies take place all over America on this special day in honor of those who have fought to protect our way of life. Most citizens attend local events, but few bother to check the happenings in our nation’s capital on Veterans Day.
The beginning of the D.C. day on November 11th, 2013, kicks off in the outskirts of the city. A wreath laying ceremony is held at the World War II memorial early in the morning. Former soldiers and their families gather here on 17th street to witness a ceremony in honor of those men who served their country in the 1940s.
The site features a central fountain surrounded by stone tablets with the names of those who sacrificed their lives in the Second World War. At night the memorial is illuminated by lights in and around the fountain that depict the valor of soldiers who fought for their country.
Senior Tom Baccaro of Trumbull High School shares his thoughts about Veterans Day and the WWII memorial.
“Last summer I was in Washington D.C. and visited the World War II memorial,” Baccaro reflected. “It was honestly one of my favorites, and, even though it was not Veterans Day, I felt a strong connection to my country’s former and current soldiers. I’m sure the November 11th ceremony there is something to experience at least once in your life.”
Two hours later, at 11:00 A.M., the day continues with a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetary.On the other side of the Potomac River lies one of our country’s most special burial grounds. Some of America’s most influential leaders and veterans have been put to rest here in Virginia. The cemetery spans over 600 acres and a few hundred thousand veterans are buried here, making it one of our country’s most significant burial grounds.
Ben Smilen, a University of Rochester student who has recently returned for his second year, feels there is something to be said about the national cemetery in Virginia.
“To be buried in Arlington is the ultimate honor. Those who sacrifice the most of themselves are the ones who find their way to these grounds,” said Smilen. “I have never been to Arlington National Cemetery, but it’s on my list of places to visit, especially on a day such as Veterans Day. I’m sure the wreath lying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is very emotional.”
Following the ceremony at Arlington is yet another wreath laying and public speaking for those who served in Vietnam. At 1:00 P.M., the public pays tribute to those who fought not only in this conflict but also in other wars throughout the 20th century.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial lies on Constitution Ave and Henry Bacon Dr. NW. It features two connected stone walls that span a little less than 250 feet near the National Mall. On the wall are the names of the Americans who fought, died, and went missing during the conflict in the 1960s and ‘70s. It attracts around 3 million visitors each year, and on Veterans Day people flock from all over the country to see the site.
Andrew Levine, a resident of Great Neck, Long Island, has two uncles who served in the Vietnam War. When asked about the Vietnam memorial, he shared his thoughts.
“I am lucky to still have my uncles today, but other families aren’t as fortunate. Vietnam was a horrifying war,” said Levine. “The best thing the United States can do is honor those who fought in that war. Hopefully one day I can take a trip down to D.C. and see the Vietnam memorial for myself.”
All day on November 11th, ceremonies will be held across the country, but Washington D.C. in particular makes Veterans Day a day to remember. The ceremonies at Arlington, the WWII Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial are only a few of many events that take place in our nation’s capital on this day of rememberance.

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