November 11, 2008

Veterans Day 2008

Veterans Day ceremonies included the traditional laying of the wreath before the Tomb of the Unknowns, the rededication of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Intrepid, and thousands of parades and commemorative observances in the United States and around the world.

November 11. Veterrans Day 2008. Millions nationwide and around the world participated in ceremonies commemorating the service of military veterans and the signing of the armistice that ended World War I on November 11, 1918. President Bush led the rededication ceremonies for the U.S.S.Intrepid in New York City. The "Fighting I" has been renovated and will serve as a museum, the Intrepid Sea, Air, And Space Museum, a part of the National Parks system.

President Bush addressed the gathering: "Veterans have inspired me. I was raised by a veteran. I appreciate the commitment to our country that the veterans have made."

Vice President Dick Cheney earlier laid a wreath before the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

President-Elect Barack Obama participated in placing a wreath in front of the bronze soldiers war memorial in Chicago with Tammy Duckworth, a war veteran who lost both her legs in combat in Iraq. Duckworth currently serves as the Illinois governor's veterans affairs director.

CNN reported on a special naturalization ceremony that goes on annually in San Diego aboard the U.S.S. Midway. Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff led the oath of allegiance for 132 servicemen representing 35 different countries to become American citizens. Since September 11, 2001, over 46,000 extranationals have become American citizens through military service.

The United States and many other nations around the world take pause on Veterans Day annually to honor the veterans of their armed forces. Originally observed on November 12 from 1919 to 1925, Congress passed a resolution in 1926 to officially move the Armistice Day to November 11. In 1935, Armistice Day became a legal holiday. Also known as Remembrance Day, the state and national holiday was known as Armistice Day in the U. S. until 1954, when President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law that the day be a holiday and commemorate the service of all veterans.

As America honored its veterans at home, future veterans carried out their duties around the world. The United States has military personnel in over 100 countries.

The United States is also engaged in two wars abroad. In Iraq, there are at present over 146,000 troops. President Bush announced in September that he would maintain the current troop strength through the new presidential transition. The incoming President Barack Obama promised on the campaign trail to bring the troops home, hopefully within 16 months of assuming the presidency.

The Iraq parliament, according to the Associated Press, has been deliberating on renewing the security pact agreement with the United States. The current agreement expires on December 31 and, sans Iraqi approval or an extended United Nations mandate, American forces would legally have to cease operations on New Year's Day, 2009. A current plan suggested by the U.S. that would extend the pact through to 2012 has been criticized as unacceptable in its current form.

In Afghanistan, the United States currently maintains a force of 31,000 troops. There have been indications of an increased resurgence in Taliban activity in Afghanistan and incoming President Obama says he would like to centralize the War on Terror there, shifting troops to that area of operations. Obama has long maintained that the War in Iraq was a mistake and a distraction from the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

According to CNN, there have been 4507 Coalition Forces troops killed in Iraq. There have been 4,193 American military personnel killed there since the war began in March 2003.

There have been 998 coalition deaths in Afghanistan, 621 of which are Americans.


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