(WFXR) — Across the country and across the Commonwealth, communities are coming together on Veterans Day to express gratitude for the men and women who served in the military, demonstrating bravery, honor, and dedication to protecting our country.
While numerous events are taking place in-person this year, there are still a few events offering remote participation amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Here is a list of ceremonies, concerts, and other events taking place around southwest and central Virginia on Thursday, Nov. 11 in honor of Veterans Day:
The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford will celebrate Veterans Day 2021 with the return of an in-person commemoration ceremony honoring all who served.
This event starts at 11 a.m. on Thursday, with guests asked to bring their own chairs to the ceremony. However, if you cannot make it to the memorial in time, below is a recording of the Livestream o the ceremony of the memorial.
The ceremony will include patriotic music, recognition of all veterans in attendance, and the dedication of the latest installation of veterans’ bricks in the Annie J. Bronson Veterans Memorial Walk and Gold Star Brick Garden.
Organizers say keynote speaker and historian Mitchell Yockelson will pay special tribute to one D-Day participant: Maj. Frederick Kellam of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Yockelson reportedly manages the National Archives and Records Administration-Archival Recovery Program — leading investigations of thefts of historical documents and museum artifacts — and works as a professor of military history at Norwich University.
According to organizers, Yockelson has also written a number of articles, reviews, and books, including his most recent book, “The Paratrooper Generals: Matthew Ridgway, Maxwell Taylor, and the American Airborne from D-Day through the Normandy Campaign,” which was published in 2020. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet Yockelson at a book signing following the ceremony.
Immediately after the ceremony, the memorial is set to break ground on a new interpretive walking trail. This event — which can also be viewed on Facebook at noon — will take place near the future trailhead, which is located between the gift shop and pavilion Quonset huts.
“The forthcoming trail will provide a learning space for guests to explore, thorough education stations, the ways in which Virginia’s natural resources helped win World War II. Overlooking the beautiful Peaks of Otter, the trail’s calm and serene setting will be a place of refuge for veterans and an enticement to physical exercise for visitors,” the National D-Day Memorial said in a statement about the Veterans Day events. “The National D-Day Memorial Foundation is grateful for the philanthropy of Ambassador Rozanne Ridgway and Captain Ted Deming. The trail will be named in their honor when dedicated in June 2022.”
The memorial will also offer free admission for veterans all day and for other members of the public until noon on Thursday.
In addition, at 12:30 p.m., a pre-produced virtual commemoration video will debut on the memorial’s YouTube channel, Facebook page, and website, as well as play throughout the afternoon inside the memorial’s Bobbie G. Johnson Pavilion.
The University of Lynchburg will honor military veterans with the “Duty, Honor, Country: An American Salute” concert, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday in Schewel Hall’s Sydnor Performance Hall. Tickets are free for the event, but are still required for admission.
At the concert, organizers say Lynchburg’s Wind Symphony and Orchestra, directed by Dr. Oeida Hatcher with Joseph Nigro, along with the Community Big Band, directed by Dr. Chris Magee, will perform music by Alfred Reed, David Holsinger, John Philip Sousa, and Michael Brown.
“The concert focuses on the American spirit, family values, emigration opportunity, and the rich history of patriotism while honoring our armed forces veterans without being political,” Hatcher stated, adding that the program also promises some surprises.
There will also be a reception after the show with the musicians in the Flint Family Lobby on the first floor of Schewel Hall.
The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets will hold a Veterans Day Remembrance Ceremony at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at the War Memorial Chapel on the Blacksburg campus, featuring a speech from Col. Gregory Lowe, commander of Virginia Tech Air Force ROTC Detachment 875 and a 1997 graduate of the Corps of Cadets.
Starting at 11 a.m., the Corps of Cadets will place the memorial wreath in from the of the cenotaph on War Memorial Court, the Gregory Guard precision rifle drill team will fire a rifle salute, and a bugler will play taps.
This event is open to the public.
In addition, cadets will participate in two vigils honoring Veterans Day:
- The Robert Femoyer Service Squadron will hold a 24-hour Veterans Day vigil on the Upper Quad at the Rock, a memorial to Virginia Tech alumni lost in World War I. This vigil will also honor the memory of the men and women who have served in the military.
- The Corps of Cadets’ Echo Company will host a vigil at the Pylons, with two cadets posted as guards at the cenotaph and changing every hour for 48 hours.
Later in the day, the corps will welcome Homer Hickam, a corps alumnus from 1964 and part of the trio of cadets who created the first Skipper, the famed Corps of Cadets’ cannon. He is also a Vietnam veteran; a retired NASA engineer; and the best-selling author of the memoir “Rocket Boys,” which was adapted into the blockbuster movie “October Sky.”
Hickam is set to join Wanda J. Smith, associate professor emerita of management and a veteran of the U.S. Army; Robert Sumichrast, dean of the Pamplin College of Business; members of the Pamplin Veterans Day Program Steering Committee; and other speakers from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Pamplin Auditorium in Blacksburg for an event titled “Salute to Veterans Day: The Embodiment of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).”
Registration for this event at the Pamplin College of Business is free, so follow this link to sign up to attend.
Remote viewing will also be available at the Falls Church Campus.
Then, at 6:30 p.m., there will be a meet-and-greet with Hickam at the Holtzman Alumni Center. During this event, Hickam will discuss highlights from his latest book, “Don’t Blow Yourself Up,” followed by a reception and book signing. Click here to sign up for this event.
Pulaski County citizens are invited to attend an American flag retirement ceremony at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the large pavilion in Randolph Park. Boy Scout Troop 249 will take your old, damaged flags and retire them with dignity and respect.
In addition, the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce says that a number of community members will show their gratitude for veterans over the next few days:
- The Blue Ridge Fudge Lady will deliver homemade fudge to many deserving veterans
- Pulaski County High School will host a Veterans Day concert at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the school’s Little Theatre
- Pulaski Theatre will host the New River Valley Community Chorus concert “Songs of War and Peace” on Saturday, Nov. 13 and Sunday, Nov. 14.
From 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Radford University students, faculty, and staff will join members of the Radford community in Bonnie Hurlburt Student Center Auditorium to salute those who serve our country during a Veterans Day ceremony.
The university says four will be featured as guest speakers during the ceremony:
- Lt. Col. Gregory V. Humble, Class of 2001, U.S. Army veteran
- Eric S. Plummer, Ph.D., Chief of Police for Radford University, U.S. Army veteran
- Chris Nelson, Housekeeping Supervisor for Zone 2, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
- Mark Shelton, M.S.W. graduate student, U.S. Army veteran
The 65th annual Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony will be held in-person from 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday at the Virginia War Memorial’s E. Bruce Heilman Amphitheater.
Attendees will include Gov. Ralph Northam (via video); U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine; Kathleen Jabs, Virginia’s Acting Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs and the keynote speaker; Maj. Gen. Timothy Williams, Adjutant General of Virginia; John Maxwell, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS); Dr. Clay Mountcastle, Director of the Virginia War Memorial; and Denise Alderman, representing Blue Star Families.
You can also watch the ceremony’s livestream on the Virginia War Memorial Facebook page.
Due to the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, Roanoke County Public Schools is sharing pre-recorded Veterans Day performances from several schools on the district’s Facebook page to show their appreciation for veterans’ dedication to protecting freedom.
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