Veterans Day will look different this year — but it, and our country’s veterans, will still be remembered and appreciated.
Like most other events and celebrations, plans for Veterans Day have been changed and adapted due to the COVID-19 outbreak. To help keep everyone safe, there will still be ceremonies, but they will be socially distanced and, in many cases, live streamed. And while there will also be parades, many will be virtual.
As a refresher, Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, the day when the fighting stopped during World War I. A Congressional Act in 1938 made the 11th of November a legal holiday. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” in 1954, November 11 became the day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Let’s take a look at what’s different this year.
Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie will host the National Veterans Day Observance on November 11 at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the men and women who have served and continue to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response has compelled the VA, Arlington Cemetery, and the Military District of Washington to change plans, there will still be a full-honor wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
As is tradition, the Friends of the National World War II Memorial and the National Park Service will recognize the more than 16 million men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II on Veterans Day. This year, a special, virtual event will take place at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. beginning at 9 a.m. EST. The ceremony will be live streamed on the Friends of the National World War II Memorial Facebook page.
Local area events are following the same format. For example, while the New York City Veterans Day Parade will have a motorized convoy of vehicles following a portion of the traditional parade route, much of the parade is being replaced with digital coverage.
The event organizers have also created a virtual Line of March to recreate the traditional parade experience. Streaming live from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST, the group will release one profile — text and images — of a regular parade participant every 45 to 60 seconds. It can be seen on local WABC TV as well as the parade’s Facebook page and on Twitter.
The 37th annual Veterans Day parade in St. Louis will also be virtual. Instead of the traditional parade, the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum and the city of St. Louis have created a pre-recorded video compilation to salute veterans.
The pre-recorded video compilation will be released at 12 p.m. CST on Veterans Day on the Soldiers Memorial’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. It features local veterans organizations and past participants of the annual parade thanking veterans and active duty service members for their service.
This, of course, is just a sample of Veterans Day parades and ceremonies. Be sure to check with your local Department of Veterans Affairs office and other agencies for information about ceremonies in your town. And for more inspiration, read up on