Thousands attend Veterans Day events at VA’s national cemeteries


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Thousands of people attended Veterans Day events at 41 different cemeteries Nov. 8-11, held by VA’s National Cemetery Administration.

Three cemeteries in Florida ran events Nov. 8, one cemetery in Louisiana had an event Nov. 9, five hosted events Nov. 10, and the remainder were on Veterans Day.

Here’s a look at some of the events:

Great Lakes National Cemetery, Michigan

More than 150 people braved four inches of snow Nov. 11 for the Great Lakes National Cemetery event. About 80% were Veterans and spouses.

Speakers brave the snow during the Great Lakes National Cemetery event Nov. 11, 2019.

Speakers brave the snow during the Great Lakes National Cemetery event Nov. 11, 2019.

Army Maj. Gen. Cummings, program executive officer of ground combat vehicles, spoke during the event. Cummings spoke about a sergeant first class he served with who always kept the officer in line, showing the Army core values. The general said that enlisted man, who later died in a motorcycle accident, is a Veteran he remembers on this day.

U.S. Representatives Elissa Slotkin, Haley Stevens and Paul Mitchell each spoke at the event, thanking Veterans for their service and sacrifice. Dozens of other state and local officials attended the event.

The Great Lakes National Cemetery Advisory Council took the lead on planning the event, said Cemetery Director Sean Baumgartner. They arranged for the guest speaker, honor guard, chaplain and other aspects.

“Their service is invaluable,” Baumgartner said. “They work so hard and do so many things for the Veterans to support the cemetery. It’s an honor to work with them. They are the most proactive advisory council I’ve ever had the chance to work with.”

Fort Gibson National Cemetery, Oklahoma

Sleet. Snow. Freezing rain. As Bill Rhoades, director of the Fort Gibson National Cemetery said, the 50 people who showed up at the Nov. 11 ceremony were “true American patriots.”

Cemetery Director Bill Rhoades speaks at the event.

Cemetery Director Bill Rhoades speaks at the event.

American Legion Post 20 Commander and Army Veteran Tim Smith spoke at the event about the 1% of Americans who serve. Speaking about the weather, Smith said Korean War Veterans at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir fought through tougher conditions. Smith also jokingly said military service brings on trials and tribulations such as putting Tabasco sauce under eyes so service members won’t fall asleep on duty.

The post commander talked about the American Legion’s mission and how American Legion baseball is an example of giving back to communities.

Several leaders attended the event, including U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin. Mullin also spoke, thank Veterans for their service.

National Cemetery of the Alleghenies, Pennsylvania

More than 400 people attended the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies event Nov. 11.

VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Director Donald Koenig spoke at the event about serving Veterans. Koenig highlighted the different transplants doctors perform at the Pittsburgh VA, including liver transplants and small bowel transplants, the only VA hospital that performs these operations. The director also talked about the hard work staff puts in for the 80,000 Veterans the center saw in the last fiscal year.

Two state senators and two state representatives joined more than a dozen dignitaries at the event, said Ed Hajduk, acting cemetery director. Marine Corps League Detachment 1138 provided the rifle salute and Taps. The Canon-McMillan High School Band and Pittsburgh South Hills Keystone Chorus provided music for the event.

 

Author

Adam Stump

Adam Stump is a public affairs specialist with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team. He is a retired Air Force Veteran who served 20 years, including two deployments to Afghanistan for detention operations and special operations.

Comments

  1. Garth Wootten    

    Great Lakes National Cemetery is in Michigan.

  2. Marc    

    I love our Veterans! Thank you for hosting the ceremonies!

  3. Marc    

    i love our veterans! Thank you for hosting the ceremonies!

    ~Marc

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