Veterans Day observances are taking place throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties today. Organizers billed today's San Fernando Valley Veterans Day Parade as the Valley's largest ever.
- The sixth annual San Fernando Valley Veterans Day Parade includes the participation of more than 60 veterans groups, the San Diego-based Navy Band Southwest, the 1st Marine Division Band from Camp Pendleton, the Air National Guard Band of the Southwest, and several high school marching bands. A flyover was planned by Van Nuys' World War II era Flying Condor Squadron.
- Forest Lawn is conducting its 50th annual Veterans Day program, with the theme, "A Celebratoin of Heroes." Speakers include U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Eric Mejia, who has been deployed to Iraq four times, Sheriff Lee Baca, and Army Maj. Gen. John S. Harrel, commander of the California Army National Guard.
- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was scheduled to speak at an observance at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood, along with Tom Ruck, author of Sacred Ground.
- The Daily Grill is distributing a multi-course lunch to homeless veterans at the Union Rescue Mission.
- Redondo Beach's seventh annual "Honor Our Veterans Tribute" includes a 2 p.m. groundbreaking for a Veterans Memorial in Veterans Park, adjacent to the Redondo Beach Pier.
- A candlelight vigil honoring veterans of all wars will be held at the Airtel Hotel in Van Nuys from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
- Observances are also planned in Carson and West Hollywood.
- In Orange County, Fullerton is conducting its 22nd annual Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony, including a flyover by Air Combat USA, which simulates aerial combat using vintage fighter planes.
- Admission is free today at the Richard M. Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda. They awarded the Orange County Veteran of the Year Award to U.S. Marine Corps Gen. W.R. "Bill" Quinn, commander of Camp Pendleton during the Nixon administration.
- Orange is holding its ninth annual Veterans Day tribute at 2 p.m., with Col. Abel Barrientes, vice commander, Fourth Air Force from the March Air Reserve Base as the keynote speaker at Depot Park.
- A Veterans Day Observance will take place in Mission Viejo at its Veterans Memorial at 2 p.m., including an address by U.S. Marine Corps Col. Michael S. Groen, commander of the Headquarters Battalion First Marine Division, the city's adopted division. Rep. Gary Miller, R-Diamond Bar, is also scheduled to speak.
- A Veterans Day Observance will also be held at Irvine Valley College at 1 p.m.
- Applebee's, Outback Steakhouse, and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts are all conducting food giveaways to veterans and active duty military personnel today. Applebee's will provide a free entree, Outback Steakhouse a free "Bloomin' Onion" and beverage, and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will give a free doughnut. Identification is required, and can include being in uniform or a photograph of being in uniform.
In his Veterans Day Proclamation, President Barack Obama wrote, "We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America. From the Minutemen who stood watch over Lexington and Concord to the service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, American veterans deserve our deepest appreciation and respect.
"Our nation's servicemen and women are our best and brightest, enlisting in times of peace and war, serving with honor under the most difficult circumstances and making sacrifices that many of us cannot begin to imagine.
Veterans Day began with a proclamation issued by President Woodrow Wilson in November 1919, a year after World War I ended, designating Nov. 11 as Armistice Day. States began declaring Nov. 11 a legal holiday. Congress made it a federal holiday in 1938, dedicated to the cause of world peace.
In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, Congress passed a law renaming it Veterans Day at the urging of veterans service organizations. From 1971 to 1977, Veterans Day was held in late October, but a law returned it to Nov. 11 beginning in 1978.