Veterans Day 2010: how Americans paid tribute
Veterans Day 2010 observances included a charity cross-country 'Gumpathon' and 'code talkers' ringing the bell on Wall Street.
Atlanta — From Santa Monica, Calif., to St. Petersburg, Fla., Americans took time out from their daily lives on Veterans Day 2010 to reflect on what the Argentine writer José Narosky said: "In war, there are no unwounded soldiers."
Enduring the ninth year of armed US intervention in remote deserts and mountain passes, Americans watched fife-and-drum parades and listened to speakers commemorating 21 million living veterans – including Frank Buckles, the last living US soldier from World War I – and remembering those who perished defending America's unique imperatives.
Here are some snapshots from what happened across America on Thursday, Veterans Day 2010:
Santa Monica, Calif.: A team of six men – one from the US Marine Corps and five from Britain's Royal Marines – finished their 63-day "Gumpathon," where they ran up to about 90 miles a day (à la the movie "Forrest Gump") from the Statue of Liberty in New York City to the Santa Monica Pier to raise money for injured service members.
Green Bay, Wis.: Pearl Harbor veteran Firman Balza, a 1st class gunner's mate on the USS Maryland when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, will tell his story at 6:30 Thursday night at Heritage Hill State Historical Park. Mr. Balza was just about to step onto the USS Arizona when the attack happened. The Arizona went down, with most of its crew, setting the United States on the course to war.
St. Petersburg, Fla.: More than 1,000 people crowded into Bay Pines VA hospital on Thursday to hear Michael Jernigan, a marine, speak. Mr. Jernigan was blinded by an explosion during a patrol in Iraq in 2004. His story has been featured in an HBO war documentary, "Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq."
"To get out here and see all of these people that care so much, are willing to take time out of their day and come out here, fight the crowds, fight the parking, I think it's wonderful," Jernigan told the St. Petersburg Times before the event. "I want to give them a picture of what today's veteran looks like, of what the new veteran looks like, of what their next generation is, and how much we care for our nation as well."
Portland, Maine: Older veterans, enlisted soldiers, high school bands, and Boy and Girl Scouts led a parade through Portland, complete with a Civil War-era fife-and-drum corps. A band played "Taps" at City Hall.
"It's a very important day," said Bill Ingraham, a Maine Army National guardsman who served as grand marshal of the parade, as reported in The Portland Press Herald. "It's honoring those who served, and some of those made the ultimate sacrifice. This isn't a celebration. It's to remember them."
New York City: Tens of thousands of people crowded Fifth Avenue to watch a Veterans Day parade. On Wall Street, former Navajo "code talkers," who created an unbreakable code that helped win the Pacific in World War II, joined Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Steven W. Busby to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
The inclement weather, the Greeley Tribune reported, reminded Ralph Darrough of his time as a surgical technician in the 64th Field Hospital in Pusan, during the Korean War – a conflict that retired Army Col. Stan Cass during the ceremony called the "forgotten war."