Americans throughout the nation will celebrate Veterans Day today in honor of members of the U.S. armed forces who sacrificed their lives to defend their country.
In Jefferson City, Mo., St. Peters Catholic Church will hold an early morning Veterans Day Service, with mass offered for those men and women who died in service to the United States of America.
In Uniontown, Pa., Liberty Baptist Church will plant an American flag for every member of the armed forces who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We want to do something tremendous so that all may remember,” the Rev. Ewing Marietta explained in an announcement, according to The Uniontown Herald-Standard. “In a year when the daily attention of the nation is focused on the future of our economy, it is easy to overlook the past. The sacrifice of those in the past makes the future possible. On Nov. 11, I ask we all pause and remember."
Most churches held special services and events on Sunday – the weekend service date closest to the federal holiday – to remember the nation’s veterans with musical salutes, flying of flags, tolling of bells, Veterans Day meals, and special concerts and performances.
"It's important that we tell them that we appreciate them,” Pastor Russell Tharp told a local NBC affiliate after a Veterans Day event Sunday at Bible Baptist Church in Central Lake, Mich.
"[What] I try to communicate to my church as a pastor is that 'folks we can't ever forget the price that others have paid for us to enjoy the liberties that we have, that we often times take for granted," he said.
Veterans Day, first known as Armistice Day, was called into being by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 following the end of World War I. The original Armistice Day had been dedicated to those soldiers who had fought in the conflict which had been called “The War to End All Wars.” In the last paragraph of his proclamation, Wilson expressed that hope.
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations,” he said.
Armistice Day was later changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all members of the U.S. armed forces.
On Tuesday, President Bush will make one of his last visits to New York City as chief executive to formally rededicate the Intrepid Sea-Air Space Museum, named after the one of the most successful ships in U.S. history.
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino says Bush will pay tribute to those who served on the aircraft carrier Intrepid – and those he calls a "new generation of heroes" serving in the war on terror.
Bush will also mingle with some 2,500 war veterans aboard the World War II carrier.