Veterans Day

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Thousands in Alabama will be recognized for their military service with parades, speeches and salutes Monday -- Veterans Day.

Admiral Robert J. Natter, commander in chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, is the invited speaker for the World Peace Luncheon Monday in Birmingham, followed by the city's annual veterans parade.

Retired Army General Wesley Clark, Mobile's Patriot of the Year, is scheduled to address the port city's veterans luncheon, followed by a concert Monday evening at Battleship Memorial Park.

In Huntsville, veterans have a chance to create a permanent record of their memorable military experiences in an oral history project. Congress authorized the Veterans History Project two years ago, recognizing that older veterans are dying.

Veterans from the Korea, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, will be honored with parades Monday, and are encouraged to share their stories at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library.

In Montgomery, the Central Alabama Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America will hold its annual flag disposal ceremony Monday at 11 a.m. at Greenwood Cemetery. Extended Web Coverage

Origins of Veterans Day

  • In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. This site, on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River and the city of Washington, became the focal point of reverence for America's veterans.

  • Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried in each nation's highest place of honor (in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe).

  • These memorial gestures all took place on Nov. 11, giving universal recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m., Nov. 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month).

  • The day became known as "Armistice Day.” Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a Congressional resolution.

  • It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar Congressional action. If the idealistic hope had been realized that World War I was "the War to end all Wars," November 11 might still be called Armistice Day. But, only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe.

  • Sixteen and one-half million Americans took part. Four hundred seven thousand of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.

  • Realizing that peace was equally preserved by veterans of WW II and Korea, Congress was requested to make this day an occasion to honor those who have served America in all wars. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov. 11 as Veterans Day.

  • The focal point for official, national ceremonies for Veterans Day continues to be the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns. At 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, a combined color guard representing all military services executes "Present Arms" at the tomb.

  • The nation's tribute to its war dead is symbolized by the laying of a presidential wreath. The bugler plays "taps." The rest of the ceremony takes place in the amphitheater.

Source: contributed to this report.