Flags at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock. (Photo: Ark. Dept. of Veterans Affairs)
Washington, D.C. (AP)-Veterans Day commemorations continue across the United States today after kicking off Saturday.
The actual holiday is today; the federal observance is on Monday. It's the first such day honoring the men and women who served in uniform since the last U.S. troops left Iraq in December 2011.
It's also a chance to thank those who stormed the beaches during World War II - a population that is rapidly shrinking with most of those former troops now in their 80s and 90s.
President Obama and first lady, Michelle, will host a breakfast with veterans at the White House. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden will also attend.
Afterward, the president will visit Arlington National Cemetery to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. He will also speak to those gathered in the Memorial Amphitheater.
The first lady, the vice president and his wife will also attend Sunday's event.
At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, a steady stream of visitors arrived Saturday morning as the names of the 58,000 people on the wall were being read over a loudspeaker.
Some visitors took pictures, others made rubbings of names, and some left mementos: a leather jacket, a flag made out of construction paper, pictures of young soldiers and even several snow globes with an American eagle inside.
Alfred A. Atwood, 65, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was visiting the wall for the first time.
"I've just never been able to do it," Atwood said of visiting the memorial, which was completed in 1982.
Atwood, who later became a police detective, said he knows a number of people on the wall, but the one name he wanted to find Saturday was his friend Ronald L. Wright. The two had grown up together, and when Atwood decided to join the Marines at 18 there was no stopping Wright, Atwood said.
Wright died in 1968 when he stepped on a land mine, Atwood said, and Wright's mother always blamed him for her son's death. He's never been able to bring himself to visit his friend's grave, he said.
On Saturday he found Wright's name on panel 44E, row 60, and he ran his fingers over it, shaking his head.
"I'm still in the blocking stage. I want to go somewhere and sit down and think a minute," he said after seeing Wright's name. "All I can see when I was touching and reading his name was his mother's face telling me I got her son killed."
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