Military and government leaders plan to attend events in and around the nation’s capital in honor of this year’s Veterans Day.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough will host a program at Arlington National Cemetery Friday morning for the 69th annual National Veterans Day Observance, according to a news release from the cemetery. He will be joined by D.C. military leaders and Vice President Kamala Harris, who will lay a wreath at the cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
McDonough said at an event earlier this week that second gentleman Douglas Emhoff and first lady Jill Biden are also expected to attend. President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to leave for Egypt tonight to attend the COP27 United Nations climate conference, will not be there but issued a proclamation earlier this week to honor the courage and sacrifice of American veterans.
“With their selfless sacrifice, our Armed Forces have forged and defended the very idea of America — a promise of freedom and equality, democracy and justice, possibility and hope. We owe them an incredible debt that can never be fully repaid,” he said.
In addition to the annual event at Arlington, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall.
McDonough will join Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and former Pentagon leader Chuck Hagel in the afternoon for a special observance at the wall. He will later make his way to Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, which will dedicate the National Native American Veterans Memorial as a part of a three-day event to honor Native veterans.
“The dedication of this memorial is an opportunity to gather and reflect on the extraordinary service and sacrifice of Native veterans and their families,” Cynthia Chavez Lamar (San Felipe Pueblo, Hopi, Tewa and Navajo), the museum’s director, said in a news release. “I hope everyone will join us for this momentous occasion, so together we can offer them our thanks for their contributions to our country.”
The memorial, which was designed by Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma), first opened in 2020.
Other events honoring former service members will take place throughout the day in Washington.
Early in the morning, McDonough and first lady Jill Biden will host a workout program on the south lawn of the White House for veterans and others in the military community, according to a press release from the first lady’s press office.
The first “Joining Forces Veterans Day Workout” will be led by Mike Erwin of the organization Team Red, White & Blue, while Logan Aldridge from Peloton and a team from the VA will lead an adaptive workout for wounded and injured participants. Dr. Biden’s Joining Forces initiative was launched in 2011 with then-First Lady Michelle Obama.
Also on the calendar for tomorrow, an observance will be held at the National World War II Memorial in the morning. The Military Women’s Memorial, located at the entrance to Arlington, will have its 25th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony in the afternoon.
With the remnants of Hurricane Nicole expected to bring heavy rain beginning tomorrow, changes to these largely outdoor events may occur.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media