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The Best Veterans Day Celebrations in 2017

Megan Hammons
By Megan HammonsNovember 10, 2017

Originally named “Armistice Day,” the intent of Veterans Day has remained the same since its inception in 1919 – to honor and thank all U.S. veterans, living and past, and to remember the price of peace.

Veterans Day Celebrations in 2017

Civilians have numerous opportunities to observe Veterans Day and honor the more 16.1 million living wartime veterans and the 5.2 million veterans who served in peacetime.

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Below are some of 2017’s best and most unique celebrations:

The Biggest: New York City

The largest Veterans Day parade in the nation – known simply as America’s Parade – is the Veterans Day parade in New York City that involves more than 25,000 participants and was first celebrated in 1919. The center of New York’s Veterans Week, it begins with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Eternal Light Monument in Madison Square Park, one hour prior to the start of the parade (or 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month). Lasting more than five hours, the parade begins on Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street, and continues north along Fifth Avenue to 56th Street. Participants include active duty service members, reservists, veterans and various veteran groups, along with junior ROTC members, floats, marching bands and historic military vehicles.

The 2017 parade marks the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into the First World War, and the U.S. Air Force is this year’s featured service. The Grand Marshal will be Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, one of the first two humans to step foot on the moon.

The Easiest to Participate: Veteran Stand Out Day and 2-Minutes of Silence

Veterans across the nation are encouraged to participate in the National Veteran Standout Day on November 9 by wearing an article of clothing, hat or pins that commemorate his or her service.

Additionally, on November 11, all Americans are invited to participate in the national observance of a two-minute national moment of silence. The Veterans Day Moment of Silence Act became public law in 2016 and is designed to bring Americans together in unity and provide an opportunity to reflect on veterans who have touched their lives. The moments of silence begin at: 3:11 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time; 2:11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time; 1:11 p.m. Central Standard Time; 12:11 Mountain Standard Time; 11:11 Pacific Standard Time; 10:11 a.m. Alaska Standard Time; 9:11 a.m. Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time.

The Most Eye-Opening: Got Your 6 “StorytellersX” Program

The Got Your 6 “Storytellers” movement is an annual program that showcases the exemplary talents and ideas of some of the country’s brightest and most groundbreaking veterans, utilizing in-person and online tools to share the stories of veteran leaders and encourage the public to become #VetInspired. The 2017 in-person events are held in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., featuring 14 outstanding veteran leaders, but you can view a live video stream or an extensive gallery of videos from past Storytellers.

The non-profit organization combines partners from the community, government and Hollywood industry to help veterans share and integrate their perspectives into culture and engage other civilians and veterans to foster understanding. The organization’s name, “Got Your Six,” refers to the military phrase for “I’ve got your back.”

The Most Motivational: Muster Across America Tour

For most of 2017, Bunker Labs – a national network of military veteran entrepreneurs aimed help other veterans start and grow their businesses – has been partnering with JPMorgan Chase & Co. to travel across the U.S. to showcase veteran entrepreneurs, empower local entrepreneurial ecosystems with large-scale events and serve as the launching point for local Bunker Labs chapters.

The tour culminates with a Muster on November 9 in New York City as part of Veterans Week, but you can view recaps from all the spring and fall stops that were a part of the 2017 tour. You can also view all the cities with participating chapters online.

The Most Official: Arlington National Cemetery

At precisely 11 a.m. local time on every Veterans Day, November 11, a wreath is somberly laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, followed by a ceremony inside the Memorial Amphitheater and concluding with Veterans Service.

Organizations laying their organization wreath at the Tomb. The 2017 event will be presided over by Vice President Mike Pence, and will include a parade of colors by veteran organizations and remarks from dignitaries. A prelude concert by The United States Air Force Band will begin at 10:30 a.m. inside the amphitheater. Entry is free and shuttles are provided, but it’s helpful to review the visitor’s guide for the 2017 event when planning your trip.

The Most Philanthropic: Mission Continues “Day of Service”

Pairing veterans with local non-profit partners and community leaders is the effective model pioneered by The Mission Continues, an organization that “deploys veterans on new missions in their communities, so that their actions will inspire future generations to serve.” The organization’s goal is to solve some of the most challenging issues facing U.S. communities today, like improving community education resources and mentoring at-risk youth. Participating veterans build new networks and skills that help them successfully reintegrate to life after the military while making long-term, sustainable transformations in communities, and inspiring future generations.

Veterans Day is a major rallying point for these city-based chapters through their National Day of Service, and local veterans are encouraged to “report for duty” and help make an impact.

The Newest: National Veterans and Military Families Month

For the first time ever, the U.S. will officially celebrate veterans and their families for the entire month of November, rather than just Veterans Day.

On the first day of the month, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) A Secretary Dr. David Shulkin joined President Donald Trump in the Oval Office for the president’s signing of a proclamation establishing November officially as “Veterans and Military Families Month.” The meeting released an online calendar of veteran-focused events throughout the month – also available in PDF form – as well as a continued promise to improve care through the VA (including better response time, increased accountability, improved transparency, continuity of care and customer service).

The Oldest: Birmingham, Alabama

In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks, a resident of Birmingham, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, rather than just those from World War I. Weeks led a delegation to Washington, D.C., urging then-Army Chief of Staff General Dwight Eisenhower to rebrand the holiday from Armistice Day to “Veterans Day” (Eisenhower would later sign legislation formally doing so in 1954 during his presidency). After Weeks’ visit to D.C., he returned home to lead the nation’s first National Veterans Day Parade in 1947, and would continue to do so until his passing in 1985.

Today the Veterans Day parade is one of the largest in the nation, with additional community-wide events leading up to the parade, including award ceremonies, dinners and luncheons, fireworks and special memorial services.

Which Veterans Day celebrations are you partaking in? We’d like to hear your plans in the comments below.

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Megan Hammons
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