LOS ANGELES — From sea to shining sea, the nation paid tribute to its members of the armed services Sunday, both with somber traditions such as a Virginia wreath-laying ceremony attended by President Barack Obama to honor those who didn't make it back from active duty, and more lighthearted perks including red-carpet treatment at Las Vegas casinos for those who did.
In California, a long legal case drew to a close as a war memorial cross that had been deemed unconstitutional was being resurrected Sunday in the Mojave desert, capping a landmark case for veterans fighting similar battles on public lands.
Sunday marked the official commemoration of Veterans Day, but the federal holiday will be observed today.
President Barack Obama laid the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Memorial Cemetery in Virginia and noted that this is the first Veterans Day in a decade with no American troops in Iraq, and that a decade of war in Afghanistan is coming to a close.
In a speech at the Memorial Amphitheater, he said America will never forget the sacrifice made by its veterans and their families.
No ceremony or parade, no hug or handshake is enough to truly honor that service, the president said, adding that the country must commit every day to serving you as well as you've served us.
Later, the president and his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, greeted families in the cemetery's Section 60, home to graves of service members killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Storm-ravaged New York hosted the country's largest Veterans Day parade with turnout sparse along portions of the 30-block route along Fifth Avenue.
Standing in warm fall sunshine, officials said veterans should be honored and remembered more than just one day a year.
This nation has a special obligation to take care of you, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told the crowd.
Several officials also made a note of mentioning Vietnam veterans. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
A Las Vegas casino rolled out the red carpet for some 60 injured veterans in a special Veterans Day weekend trip.
The annual Salute to the Troops weekend started with free American Airlines flights for veterans Thursday.
MGM Resorts is hosting the veterans free at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, and treating them to a variety of attractions and shows during the five-day trip that ends today.