Saturday marked the first of what will be three days of Veterans Day commemorations across the United States.
The holiday falls on a Sunday, and the federal observance is on Monday. It‚??s the first such day honoring the men and women who served in uniform since the last U.S. troops left Iraq in December 2011.
It‚??s also a chance to thank those who stormed the beaches during World War II ‚?? a population that is rapidly shrinking with most of those former troops now in their 80s and 90s.
At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, a steady stream of visitors arrived Saturday morning as the names of the 58,000 people on the wall were being read over a loudspeaker.
Some visitors took pictures, others made rubbings of names, and some left mementos: a leather jacket, a flag made out of construction paper, pictures of young soldiers and even several snow globes with an American eagle inside.
Alfred A. Atwood, 65, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was visiting the wall for the first time.
‚??I‚??ve just never been able to do it,‚?Ě Atwood said of visiting the memorial, which was completed in 1982.
A half-dozen women of various ages knitted intently near a pile of hand-made scarves while frail, silver-haired men sat waiting for a chance to tell their war stories Saturday as tourists and veterans filed into the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
The museum planned a series of events to celebrate the Veterans Day weekend.
The knitters had gathered to commemorate 1940s homefront efforts to supply World War II troops with warm socks and sweaters.
At the National Cemetery in Bourne, Mass., on Cape Cod, about 1,000 people including Cub Scouts and Gold Star Mothers gathered on a crisp fall day for a short ceremony.
They then spread out to plant 56,000 flags amid the cemetery‚??s flat gravestones.
Thousands of spectators are expected to line Fifth Avenue for New York City‚??s Veterans Day Parade today.
Former Mayor Ed Koch is the grand marshal for the parade, which will run for 30 blocks, starting at 26th Street.
Also marching will be the Navajo Code Talkers, who transmitted coded messages during WWII, and other veteran groups.
Some participants in the parade are collecting coat donations for Superstorm Sandy victims.
The theme is ‚??United we Stand‚?Ě and the parade marks the 200th anniversary of The War of 1812.
The parade begins at 11:15 a.m. after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Eternal Light Monument at 24th Street. Bleachers and a reviewing stand are located at Fifth Avenue and 41st Street.