The centerpiece of the capital’s Veterans Day celebration will take place Sunday at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Drive.
The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. in the memorial amphitheater next to the Tomb of the Unknowns, with music from the U.S. Air Force Band and the Singing Sergeants. The wreathlaying ceremony begins at 11 a.m. (the 11th hour of the 11th month). The wreath is traditionally placed by the president. Due to the circumstances, it is not yet known whether the president will participate this year.
It is still called the “presidential wreathlaying” even if another government official does the honors. Only one individual will actually lay the wreath, though the heads of 34 veterans groups from around the country will participate in the ceremony by flanking the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Following the wreathlaying, the heads of the veterans groups will lead a procession of colors (roughly 80 flags) into the memorial amphitheater. On stage will be those commanders from the veterans groups (mostly national presidents of these organizations). Then comes the invocation by chaplain and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Remarks will follow from Joseph W. Lipowski, national commander of American Veterans (AMVETS), the designated host of this year’s ceremony. The master of ceremonies will be Lee Thornton, a professor of journalism at the University of Maryland. She has been the master of ceremonies for the past nine years.
She will introduce the national commanders. These groups, along with the Congressional Medal of Honor society, makes up the Veterans Day National Committee
Following the introductions, Anthony J. Principi, secretary of Veterans Affairs, will give brief remarks. Another guest speaker, not yet confirmed, will then deliver a speech. This may be President George W. Bush.
For further information see the Veterans Administration Web site at www.va.gov/vetsday or call 703/557-0613.