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DC marks Veterans Day with first National Veterans Parade, other observances

“As a veteran, that means a lot to me, and to be able to be at this parade, first national parade, I think that’s awesome,” a veteran told News4. 

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This weekend, the country paused to honor all the people who have served in the military with Veterans Day observances–some somber, others joyful and proud–and the first National Veterans Parade.

On Saturday’s crisp autumn morning, before ceremonies, there was time for quiet contemplation at the Native American Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian. The structure is a bold circle balanced on a stone drum over a fountain and four lances around the circle.

“People are encouraged to tie prayer cloths to those lances as a way of remembering and acknowledging the service of native veterans,” Rebecca Trautmann, the memorial curator, said. 

It is said when the wind blows, it carries those prayers and remembrances aloft.

“It’s just a place for reflection and healing,” Trautmann said. 

Later in the morning, President Joe paid his respects by laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

This weekend, the county paused to honor all the people who have served in the military. News4's Derrick Ward has a look at Veterans Day observances in the District.

“We come together today to once again honor the generations of Amercians who stood on the front lines of freedom, to once again bear witness to the great deeds of a noble few who risked everything, everything, to give us a better future,” he said. 

Meanwhile on the National Mall, people got a preview of the Veterans Day Parade. Bands, like one from Avenworth High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, performed their halftime routines on Saturday to practice before marching.

“It’s an opportunity for them to do the best performance they have for the year,” Francis Ventura, executive director of the National Veterans Foundation, said. 

He said the Avenworth High School band and others raised funds all year to come to Washington, D.C., and participate in the Veterans Day Parade. But the event is about more than just displaying their talent.

“It’s a place for everyone to come together, and everybody can celebrate our veterans, because veterans come from all walks of life, all sides of the political aisles. We’re non-partisan. We welcome everyone, and our parade will reflect that when you see some of our groups,” Ventura said. 

Shortly after noon on Sunday, the first of the bands stepped off along Constitution Avenue. 

But along with the music came a call for a deep social cause. The Veterans Help Group out of Frederick, Maryland, featured their founder, Nick Walker, pulling a loaded trailer along the parade route. His effort symbolized the weight carried daily by veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and their families.

As the last of the bands marched by, it was evident that it wasn’t the biggest parade to pass along Constitution Avenue. But honored traditions often start small, and those who came were honored to be present for the first one.

“We’re really thankful for all the veterans and all they do,” Karen Kelly, visiting from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, said. 

“As a veteran, that means a lot to me, and to be able to be at this parade, first national parade, I think that’s awesome,” a veteran told News4. 

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