NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — On Veterans Day, Americans across the nation are honoring the sacrifices and service of the nation’s armed forces with parades, wreath-laying ceremonies and other events.
In New York City, the nation’s largest Veterans Day parade, renamed America’s Parade, stepped off at Fifth Avenue and 26th Street shortly after 11 a.m.
This year’s grand marshal was Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, the U.S. military’s first female four-star general. Dunwoody retired last year after a 37-year Army career.
Former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi was also a grand marshal and Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, was an honorary grand marshal of the parade.[cbs-olapic gallery_id=”388428627″][/cbs-olapic]
Before crowds lined the streets, a smaller group assembled at the Eternal Light Monument in Madison Square Park for a wreath-laying ceremony, including Mayor Micheal Bloomberg and Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.
“It’s a great day for America and it’s a great day for New York as we honor the people who give their lives to protect us,” Bloomberg said, “It is the service and sacrifice of our veterans that has enabled New York to grow into the world’s greatest city and shine as a beacon of freedom.”
When the sober ceremony ended a more festive parade began. The parade has been one of the biggest celebrations for this country’s veterans, CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported.
“They’re here to support us. To give us the respect and the honor,” Marine Corps veteran George Gonzalez said.
“We’re the police of the world. It all starts with us,” fellow Marine Steven Slattery added.
At 3 p.m., veterans helped crew members of the U.S.S. Intrepid lay two wreaths in the Hudson River in honor of the veterans and former crew members of the Intrepid. Museum entrance is free to all veterans today.
The U.S.S. New York is also in the Big Apple for this year’s Veterans Week.
The ship was named for the victims, families and first responders of the Sept. 11th attacks and has 7.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center in her bow.
The ship, which transports sailors, Marines and helicopters, was open to the public for tours until 4 p.m. Monday.
“There are veterans giving the tours which is a really nice thing and we can thank them for their service,” Kips Bay resident Craig Beall said.
If you’re looking for a more artistic way to celebrate Veterans Day, head to the Forbes galleries at 6 p.m. when the organization Fashion Has Heart will present a collection of original art created by wounded U.S. military veterans.
Flags are also being flown at half-staff in Albany in honor of the families who lost loved ones serving in the military. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law dictating the honor on Sunday.
“From defending our nation abroad to protecting our citizens here at home, the men and women of the armed services are America’s heroes,” Cuomo said in a statement. “On this and every Veterans Day, we pause to salute their sacrifice and courage. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my sincerest thanks to our veterans, their families, and the service members who are deployed and in units preparing to deploy from New York in the upcoming year. Their selfless service has earned our deepest gratitude.”
In New Jersey, officials have entombed the remains of more than 4,000 American flags in a ceremony at the state’s largest veterans cemetery to commemorate Veteran’s Day.
The event Monday at the Brig. Gen. William Doyle Veterans Military Cemetery in Wrightstown was one of several held around the state on the 95th anniversary of the end of World War I.
State officials say the cemetery is the busiest state veteran cemetery in the nation, averaging 2,750 interments yearly.
The cemetery is the final resting place for more than 45,000 veterans and their relatives.
In Conn., Gov. Dan Malloy is scheduled to participate in several events to honor those who have served the country.
The governor was in Bridgeport for a bill-signing ceremony Monday morning celebrating the passage of two new state laws improving services for Connecticut’s veterans.
Malloy then will take part in the annual Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Connecticut State Veterans Cemetery in Middletown at 2 p.m.
Windsor, East Lyme, Trumbull and Greenwich are among many towns also holding observances on Monday.
This year’s holiday has special meaning for veterans who fought in Korea, because it’s the 60th anniversary of the end of that war.
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