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The national holiday also was an opportunity for Americans across the country to visit the iconic Washington memorials honoring millions of U.S. military veterans, including the National World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall.

New York’s Veterans Day ceremony, starting with a wreath-laying at Madison Square Park’s World War I monument, honored the Navajo Code Talkers unit as special guests. During World War II, these Marines developed a code based on the Navajo language, which was indecipherable to Japanese code breakers.

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill used the day off to return to their home states to honor veterans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, returned to San Francisco to dedicate an overlook to the San Francisco National Cemetery, in which 30,000 Americans are buried.

Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Democrat, held a hearing at Constitution Center in Philadelphia with veterans to explore the problems of unemployment and homelessness; while lawmakers held a separate hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to focus solely on homelessness.

“To me, the crisis we face is no less than a national disgrace represented by the haunting image of 131,000 veterans on the streets of America on any given night. … American heroes huddled over a heating grate in the shadow of the Washington Monument or curled up on a bench by the war memorials on the Mall in Washington or trying to find shelter in cities across America,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat.