Tens of thousands gather to honor the nation's fallen soldiers
11th November 2021

America remembers: Tens of thousands gather at ceremonies and parades to honor the nation’s fallen soldiers on Veterans Day and commemorate the 100th year of Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

  • The nation honors the 100th year of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery 
  • A procession of military members took place in the streets of Arlington, Virginia, to honor all service members both living and fallen 
  • Parades and ceremonies took place across the nation, including the largest in New York City, which celebrated its 102nd Veterans Day parade  
  • President Joe Biden laid a wreath in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and spoke about new health care plan for veterans and the ‘lifetime sacred commitment’ of taking care of soldiers 

Moving images show how thousands gathered across the US to honor the nation’s fallen, as well as veterans and active-duty service members, on Veterans Day with a series of festive parades, ceremonies at various memorials and moments of silence for the fallen on Thursday, also the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

A procession including members of the military took place along the streets of Arlington, Virginia, to honor those who have served, with soldiers dressed in uniforms from previous wars and in military formations.

Big cities like New York, Nashville, and Milwaukee hosted parades, while San Diego has brought back the beloved boat parade. 

Nashville’s parade set off into the rainy weather with a police motorcade, an array of patriotic flags, and more. 

New York City set off its 102nd parade this year and will host the largest ceremony in the country. 

The large display featured more than 25,000 marchers in 300 units – including active-duty members, veteran’s groups and JROTC members – 30 floats and more than 150 military vehicles.  

A retired WWII veteran of the US Army Air Corp, Walter Rybarczik, 100, takes part in a memorial service in New York City. He wore a sash that said ‘Greatest Generation’ and a hat honoring his time in the war 

A group of people holding a large American flag pass by 36th street in Manhattan during the parade 

A group of servicemembers walk with flags through the streets of New York during the parade on November 11

The large parade went through downtown Manhattan, starting at 25th and Fifth and going up to 42nd Street 


Active duty service members also participated in the ceremony. A Vietnam veteran salutes and waves as he takes part in New York City’s Veterans’ Day parade

Army Infantry veteran Jose Rodriguez, 105, was one of the spectators of the parade. The wheelchair-bound veteran was surrounded by family and an old photograph of him in uniform and his wife 

A veteran has an American flag stuck in his hate as he watched the memorial parade in St. Louis

A woman carries a bouquet of flowers and wears a shirt with a loved one face on it who died in Afghanistan 

Servicemembers line up in formation as they prepare to march through NYC 

Two children stand in the back of a military Jeep with waving American flags as two soldiers drive down the streets of NYC

Members of the Army pay respect to the fallen during the minutes of silence at the memorial service ahead of the parade in Madison Square Park in New York City 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul attended the New York City parade – the largest in the nation. It featured more than 300 marching units – including active-duty members, veteran’s groups, and JROTC members – 25,000 marches, 30 floats and over 150 military vehicles

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio looked emotional has he held his hand over his heart at a memorial service at Madison Square Park in Manhattan 

De Blasio, who appeared emotional earlier in the day, was smiling brightly as he walked along with a military band 

New York City Mayor-Elect Eric Adams joined the parade and shook hands with some of the NYPD

New York Attorney General and Governor hopeful Letita James and Curtis Sliwa, who lost the NYC mayoral race against Eric Adams also attended the parade  

Tulsa, Oklahoma, hosted its 103rd parade with an array of dancers, cars, music, and flags. The theme was Never Forget in honor of it being 20 years since 9/11. 

San Diego will unleash a large fleet of boats later this afternoon that are decked out in patriotic designs and colors. Sixty pleasure boats, as well as the Vietnam-era Swift Boat PCF 816 and the Tall Ship Californian, will also be sailing. The boats will carry active-duty members and their families on board. 

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and other world leaders paid respects by participating in an moment of silence. 

A group of military members and politicians gathered at a invite-only ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. 

This year’s ceremony was designed to model the original internment of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from 100 years ago.  

It is also the first time tourists could pay their respects up close, according to Roll Call. The public was invited to place flowers near the Tomb, which was blocked off on Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of the Thursday ceremony. 

It was the first time in 96 years the public has been allowed to lay flowers in front of the Tomb. 

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is the final resting place for three unidentified American service members, dating back to 1921. 

President Joe Biden placed a wreath in front of the Tomb before quietly saying a prayer and making the sign of the cross at the 11 a.m. ceremony. 

Biden attended the ceremony alongside Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Dressed in a somber black suit and tie, and donning a face mask, the president and his wife Jill attended the ceremony in Virginia to mark the 100th anniversary of the Unknown Solider.  

Biden also announced his new health care plan for veterans. The effort centers on lung problems suffered by troops who breathe in toxins and the potential connection between rare cancers and time spent overseas breathing poor air, according to the White House.

The new plan holds a special place in the president and first lady’s hearts as the couple’s son Beau, who died of a brain tumor in 2015, was an Iraq War veteran. Beau was a member of the Delaware Army National Guard and was deployed to Iraq as a lawyer.

Biden is the first president since Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s to have had a child who served in an active conflict. 

The president has said previously that he suspected Beau’s exposure to burn pits in Iraq contributed to his death from cancer. 

Two ladies hold signs saying ‘we [heart] our veterans’ and ‘we can’t all be heroes’ signs in New York City as the parade passed by them 

A large crowd of people stand against the barricades to watch the parade, which was spectator-less last year due to COVID-19

A mom hugs her daughter and dog at a ceremony in Tom Kaiser Park in Boynton Beach in Florida 

A soldier stands in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Solider on Veterans Days to honor those who have fallen 

A wreath of beautiful, brightly colored flowers surrounds the tomb as soldiers pay their respects 

President Biden placed the wreath in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before saying a silent prayer for the fallen 

Veterans Day holds a special in President Joe Biden’s heart. His son (pictured), who died in 2015, was deployed to Iraq. Biden announced a new veteran healthcare plan to include health problems that occur due to being exposed to toxic air. Biden has said he believes Beau’s death could have been partially caused by the burn pits he was exposed to

Troops march through the streets on the centennial anniversary of the Tomb in Arlington 

A crowd gathers to watch the procession and and honor active duty, retired and fallen US service members in Arlington 

A flyover took place over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arrington 

Soldiers watch the flyover in Arlington, Virginia, ahead of the wreath-laying ceremony 

‘Because of his exposure to burn pits, in my view – I can’t prove it yet – he came back with stage four glioblastoma,’ Biden said in 2019, according to ABC 7. ‘Eighteen months he lived, knowing he was going to die.

‘Anybody who was anywhere near those burn pits, that’s all they have to show and they get covered, they get all their health care covered.’ 

Biden also mentioned how he lost ‘three good friends’ in the ‘last several weeks’ during his speech at Arlington National Ceremony.  

Sparkly dancers cheered on the crowd as they danced through routines in the parade 

Milwaukee, Wisconsin posted a parade. A group of women carried a banner that read ‘blue star mother’ and waved flags  

A Navy veteran stands by a submarine and an American flag and a striped flag that read ‘don’t tread on me’ with a figure of a snake 

A color guard, out of Berrien Springs, Michigan, stands in a steady rain during a Veterans Day ceremony

‘I must say to you that a single greatest honor I’ve been afforded as president is to stand before so many of you Medal of Honor [recipients] out there,’ Biden said when starting his speech at the ceremony. 

‘To all our veterans past and present, we thank and honor you and we remember always what you’ve done for us.’  

He also said ‘to be a veteran’ it means enduring the challenges ‘most Americans will never know.’

‘You are the spine of the country. All of us – all of us – own you,’ the president said. ‘And every day we honor that great debt.’ 

Biden also said it’s a ‘lifetime sacred commitment, it never expires’ and that it was a ‘personal issue’ to take care of veterans both while they are active duty and retired. 

‘I learned what it was like to pray every day for someone you love to come home, some of you have done that.’ 

The VA is now testing the pilot program and Biden has told the agency to provide recommendations on the new presumptive conditions – constrictive bronchiolitis, lung cancers and rare respiratory cancers. 

The Biden administration will add to the list of presumptive conditions, including mental health and LGBT+ programs, within 90 days. 

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