Pride, honor and tears mark Veterans Day

Cer­e­monies across the na­tion thank those who served

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - NATION | WORLD - By An­drew Selsky

Amer­i­cans hon­ored their mil­i­tary veterans Satur­day with a pa­rade in the win­try cold of New York City, where one World War II vet thanked on­look­ers for re­mem­ber­ing, and in a somber cer­e­mony in a Texas com­mu­nity blood­ied by a church mas­sacre where al­most half of those killed had ties to the U.S. Air Force.

Across the At­lantic, mil­lions of peo­ple in Britain and France paused to re­mem­ber war vic­tims as they marked Armistice Day, which this year was the 99th an­niver­sary of the end of World War I.

In parks, war memo­ri­als, football fields and on streets across the United States, politi­cians and cit­i­zens gath­ered to thank those who have served in the na­tion’s armed forces. ‘Look to the fu­ture’

In Suther­land Springs, a Veterans Day cer­e­mony out­side a com­mu­nity cen­ter was grim as about 100 peo­ple gath­ered un­der cloudy skies, hon­or­ing the more than two dozen peo­ple killed a block away at a church last Sun­day.

An Air Force of­fi­cial has said 12 of the mas­sacre vic­tims had di­rect con­nec­tions to the Air Force, “ei­ther mem­bers or with fam­ily ties.” Suther­land Springs is near Lack­land Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Wil­son County Judge Richard Jack­son’s voice broke as he thanked the first re­spon­ders and oth­ers who rushed to the First Bap­tist Church, say­ing the scene will af­fect them the rest of their lives.

Jack­son said he hopes Satur­day’s cer­e­mony will help “put this hor­rific tragedy be­hind us and look to the fu­ture.”

A wreath was placed near flags to re­mem­ber those killed.

In New York City, which hosts the largest Veterans Day pa­rade in the coun­try, as­tro­naut Buzz Aldrin served as grand mar­shal, join­ing Mayor Bill de Bla­sio and the Air Force’s high­est-rank­ing woman at Satur­day’s pa­rade.

“It’s beau­ti­ful, so many peo­ple,” said Aldrin, who rode in a con­vert­ible and waved to the crowds gath­ered on Man­hat­tan’s Fifth Av­enue. Aldrin, 87, served in the Air Force and was the sec­ond man on the moon, pi­lot­ing the Apollo 11 and fol­low­ing Neil Arm­strong onto the lu­nar sur­face in 1969.

Air Force Gen. Ellen Paw­likowski also at­tended, along with hun­dreds of other veterans who marched in the cold.

One of the World War II veterans who rode in a float held a sign that read “Thank you for re­mem­ber­ing.” Oth­ers held U.S. flags or black-and-white pho­tos of their loved ones, and dressed in historic uni­forms.

Also in New York state, state and lo­cal of­fi­cials said a new mon­u­ment will honor AfricanAmer­i­can mil­i­tary veterans, and will be built in Buf­falo’s water­front, along­side other memo­ri­als. Plan­ners hope to ded­i­cate it on Veterans Day 2018.

In Wash­ing­ton, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, car­ried or­ange buck­ets with the mes­sage “Let’s Do This” to the Viet­nam Veterans Memorial, join­ing sev­eral dozen vol­un­teers to give it a clean­ing.

The Pences spent about 40 min­utes just after dawn Satur­day wip­ing down the memorial wall en­graved with the names of fallen sol­diers.

“This is a great way to start Veterans Day!” Pence de­clared. He shook hands and posed for pho­tos with the vol­un­teers. Wear­ing red pa­per pop­pies

Across Britain, peo­ple stopped in streets, squares and rail­way sta­tions for two min­utes of si­lence start­ing at 11 a.m. At that mo­ment — the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — World War I ended 99 years ago, on Nov. 11, 1918.

In Paris, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron laid a wreath at the statue of wartime French Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orges Cle­menceau, a key ar­chi­tect of peace be­tween the great powers. Macron then in­spected French troops and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Un­known Sol­dier at the Arc de Tri­om­phe.

Many Bri­tons wore red pa­per pop­pies, sym­bol­iz­ing the flow­ers that bloomed amid the car­nage of WWI’s West­ern Front.

Armistice Day orig­i­nally com­mem­o­rated the mil­lions who died in the Great War but now also remembers those killed in World War II and subsequent con­flicts.

Win McNamee / Getty Im­ages

A young boy rides on his fa­ther’s shoul­ders while vis­it­ing Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery on Veterans Day. The hol­i­day pays trib­ute to those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Alex Bran­don / As­so­ci­ated Press

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence was among the vol­un­teers who cleaned the Viet­nam Veterans Memorial on Satur­day.

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