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Veterans Day celebrated across USA

It's Veterans Day, a day when we pause to pay tribute to the courageous men women who have served in our nation's military.

November 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Veterans Day is a day when we pause to pay tribute to the courageous men and women who served in our nation's military.

America honored its many veterans Friday, from the days of the American Revolution to modern-day conflicts.

President Barack Obama placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

In Los Angeles, there was a moving Veterans Day ceremony at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.

Bagpipes played "Amazing Grace" as hundreds gathered under a brilliant November sky to honor the men and women who served in our armed forces.

Friday was the 52nd Annual Veterans Day Ceremony at Forest Lawn.

Friday's tribute included a memorial wreath and speeches from local officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, among others.

"It's the service people that brought about the history of freedom," said L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge.

Organizers say the ceremony at Forest Lawn gets bigger every year.

Along with the flags and proclamations, Friday's celebrations included a skydiving exhibit and a military flyover.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were on hand assisting the guests.

The 8th Annual San Fernando Valley Veterans Day Parade honored veterans close to home. That kicked off in Pacoima at San Fernando and Laurel Canyon boulevards at 11 a.m.

There was a series of jet flyovers at San Fernando Valley parade. It's one of the largest Veterans Day observances in Southern California. The parade featured veterans groups, high-school marching bands and floats.

At the 9th Annual Veterans Day Parade in Murrieta, a C-17 Globemaster started things off with a fly-by from high above, and a Marine Corps marching band led the way down Washington Avenue.

U.S. Marines from Camp Pendleton were in attendance. The Temecula Valley Young Marines carried a giant flag.

"I think everybody needs to say 'thank you' to a vet, give them a hug, donate to Wounded Warriors," said Murrieta resident Diana Serafin. "I just love our vets."

"I think it's more important today than it has been in in the past, and I am looking forward to this feeling that people have for our vets continue, because my generation, we were forgotten, and I'm glad to see it come back," said Bruce Meyer, a Navy SEAL veteran.

Murrieta also celebrated Veterans Day 2011 with 2,011 American flags, on a field of honor, each flag recognizing a veteran in the area.

"You'll be surprised how many people go out of their way and come up to you and shake your hand and thank you," said U.S. Marine Capt. Ricardo Hernandez. "You just know the way they look at you in the eye, the way that they hold your hand, you know that they are very grateful for what we've done for them."

"The service means a lot to me," said Korean War veteran Richard Jimenez. "I am proud to be with these guys that were up there with me. There's a lot of them around here. They serve with me in the same outfit, 40 Division."

Among those at the parade were people who lost loved ones serving the country.

"My husband was a veteran and I love all veterans," said San Fernando resident Dona Kallgren. "My brother was killed in World War II. Just thankful for what the vets have done for us."

In San Diego, sailors saw the first-of-its-kind basketball game on an aircraft carrier. The flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson was transformed into a basketball arena for Michigan State Spartans and No.-1-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.

The stands can hold 7,000 people. President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were in attendance for the tipoff at 4 p.m., along with a number of wounded warriors.

The Spartans wore camouflaged uniforms instead of their usual green and white.

"It's bigger than a game," said Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo. "It's bigger than North Carolina against Michigan State. It's kind of a dream come true."

"I see every one of my players with their phones or cameras walking around," said North Carolina Coach Roy Williams. "And they weren't even talking to each other. They just had their eyes wide open, mouths wide open."

The Obamas flew to San Diego after the president spoke at Arlington earlier Friday.

After visiting San Diego, the president will continue to Hawaii for an Asia-Pacific summit.

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