Veterans Day is dedicated to American veterans of all wars.
The federal holiday observed annually on Nov. 11 was formerly known as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I. World War I formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the armistice with Germany went into effect. It officially became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938.
By 1954, Congress voted to swap the word “armistice” for “veterans,” making it the day to honor all American veterans of war.
Each year, municipalities across the Lehigh Valley typically host parades, ceremonies, tributes, lectures, concerts and other events to mark Veterans Day. Continuing these events this year, however, is a more difficult task amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Residents participating will be asked by individual municipalities to follow social distancing guidelines, sanitize hands, and wear facial masks, as well as other recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some towns have told us their own recommendations for navigating the event during the pandemic.
Others have decided to postpone events as a precautionary measure, host them virtually, or cancel them all together. We tell you which events traditionally held on Nov. 11 have halted plans this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s a list of events for Veterans Day in the Lehigh Valley:
Virtual Coffee & Conversation: Reflections by World War II Veterans, 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11. The ArtsQuest event will be streamed live on the SteelStacks Facebook page and the SteelStacks website from the Phoebe Home in Allentown. The program is moderated by U.S. Marine Frank Gunther and four other U.S. veterans and friends, who usually meet daily for coffee. The event is expected to give guests an intimate look into their conversations, reflecting upon their memories of World War II.
Veterans Day Ceremony, 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11: National Museum of Industrial History, 602 E. 2nd St. The presentation, held in conjunction with the Bethlehem’s Steelworkers Veterans Memorial Committee, honors those who served in the armed forces. The event will include the rededication of the Steelworkers Veterans Memorial, which was recently relocated from its original space outside the plant’s employee entrance gate to the museum’s new outdoor park. The ceremony also will include a procession from the Nam Knights of America Motorcycle Club, a presentation of the colors from the Lehigh University Reserve Officer Training Corps, and will honor Richard G. Schimmel, an Allentown native and World War II veteran who survived the attacks on Pearl Harbor, as well as keynote remarks by U.S. Army Master Sergeant Stephan C. Potsko. The National Museum of Industrial History will be free to all veterans and their families from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Veterans Day.
Annual Veterans Day program, 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11: Scott Park, 130 Larry Holmes Drive. Conducted by The Joint Veterans Council-Forks of the Delaware and the Easton Memorial Day Parade Council. Color Guard from the Northampton County Detachment No. 298 Marine Corps League along with the Brown & Lynch American Legion Post No. 9 Honor Guard will participate.
The South Side Civic Association is hosting a Veterans Day ceremony at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, at Hay’s Cemetery, featuring a bugler, wreath-laying at the base of the flagpole and a prayer. All dignitaries and veterans are welcome. Enter from Packer Street.
Virtual Veterans Day Observance, all day Wednesday, Nov. 11: The program can be accessed at any time by searching “Williams Township Veterans Memorial” on YouTube. Williams Township Elementary School fourth graders plan to pay tribute to each branch of the service in word and song. George Washburn, a Vietnam War veteran, plans to offer a meditative talk, entitled “Homefront Heroes.” The speech will focus on folks supporting veterans from the home front. Senior township WWII veteran Lester Race has been asked to raise the American Flag. Paul Braden, pastor of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, plans to offer the opening prayer and benediction, including a remembrance of veterans who have died since the township’s last Veterans Day observance.
Additionally, scrolls of thanks made by elementary-aged children for veterans will be distributed from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11 to drive-by participants by Memorial Committee members at the Veterans Memorial, 655 Cider Press Road, in the township. A wreath-laying ceremony also is planned for noon Saturday, Dec. 19 at St. John’s Union Cemetery, 2745 Morgan Hill Road, in the township.
8th annual Luminaria Lighting, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7: Becky’s Drive-In, 4548 Lehigh Drive. Participants will create luminaria, consisting of a votive candle set in a small paper bag weighted with sand. The ceremony provides friends and family members of those deceased, including veterans, an opportunity to remember them. Guests should register here or by calling InfoLink at 1-866-STLUKES (option 4) and the suggested donation is $15 per car and $25 for memorial signs. The event will begin with opening remarks acknowledging those who served. All proceeds support St. Luke’s Hospice Bereavement Programs and Services.
The annual “Rendering of Military Honors” event featuring the Northampton County Detachment No. 298 Marine Corps League along with the American Legion Brown & Lynch Post No. 9 Color/Honor guard, Wilson Area High School Drum and Bugle Corps, and students from St. Jane’s Elementary School and Wilson Elementary School has been canceled this year.
Virtual 5K Ruck ‘n Walk Challenge, Sunday, Nov. 8 to Sunday, Nov. 15: hosted by A’s for Vets, an alliance formed by the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council consisting of institutions of higher learning in the Lehigh Valley endeavoring to better assist veterans seeking education and support. The event is open to all student veterans and their families, other students, faculty, staff and the community by registering at runsignup.com/asforvetsvirtualrucknwalk. Participants will “Ruck or Walk” in remembrance and support of area veterans and choose their own challenge, team or route. Those who submit their results by Nov. 15 will be entered to win one of 10 $50 gift cards. The college or university team with the most miles submitted by team participants (Ruck and Walk combined) will earn a plaque to be displayed on their campus; the Top Female and Top Male “Rucker” will win $100 gift cards. Donations welcome with proceeds benefiting the VALOR Clinic Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing assistance in accessing benefits and shelter for military veterans with limited or no access to care.
Marine Corps Monument Ceremony, Tuesday, Nov. 10: Marine Corps Monument, Cedar Beach Park, 24th and Hamilton streets. The Bethlehem and Lehigh Valley Marine Corps. League detachments and the local Inspector-Instructor staff of India Battery will be participating in the annual ceremony along with other area U.S. Marines. Program includes a ceremony, color guard, and bugle rendition of the Marine Corps Hymn. A cake cutting ceremony honoring the oldest and youngest U.S. Marines will be held immediately afterward.
The annual Veterans Day ceremony, at DeSales University, 2755 Station Ave, has been canceled this year for the public. The event honors all those who served in the U.S. armed forces and in the past, has featured the DeSales University Chorale, Southern Lehigh High School Band, and Southern Lehigh Color Guard.
Presentation of 50 American flags, 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11: Blairstown Elementary School, 1 Sunset Hill Road. Members of the Blairstown Rotary Club in conjunction with American Legion Post No. 258 Givens-Belet plan to donate the flags to the school for various classrooms.
Veterans Day Ceremony, 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11: Warren County War Memorial, Second and Mansfield streets. Hosted by members of the Warren County War Memorial Corporation and American Legion Post No. 528 of White Township. The ceremony will celebrate all U.S. veterans who served the country during war or peacetime. The event is dedicated to Leo Becker, a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Navy and was chairman of the war memorial. A presentation of a Quilt of Valor by the Evening Star Quilting Guild to a combat veteran will follow the program . Guests are encouraged to wear red, white and blue.
The annual Veterans Artwork & Photographs: Artists’ exhibit held at the Warren County Arts Gallery has been canceled this year. The exhibit in the past has featured more than 60 works including watercolors and acrylics, drawings and photographs and subject matter ranging from landscapes to war scenes.
Mayor Todd Tersigni invites the public to honor veterans at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, at Shappell Park. The service is scheduled to feature as guest speaker retired U.S. Air Force Col. James C. Sikra.
23rd annual William L. Nixon Veterans Tribute, held traditionally at Phillipsburg High with guest speakers, musicians, bagpipers, “Posting the Colors;” presentations, tributes and live video is being postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The following locations in the Lehigh Valley also announced their plans for Veterans Day:
The annual Patriotic Concert traditionally held at various county destinations and featuring the renowned Hanover Wind Symphony is canceled for 2020. The concert each year honors World War II veterans and members of Gold Star families (those who lost a family member in military service).
12th annual Veterans Day Celebration, 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12: Hosted by East Stroudsburg University can be attended virtually by logging on here. The ceremony will recognize area veterans, as well as servicemen and servicewomen in all branches of the armed services. It also will feature remarks by the university’s Interim President Kenneth Long and a keynote address is planned by Maj. Gen. Marvin Jay Barry. Barry retired in January 2006 and was the mobilization assistant to the chief of the U.S. Air Force Reserve headquartered in Washington, D.C.
National Veterans Awareness Week, Sunday, Nov. 8 to Sunday, Nov. 15: Kutztown University, McFarland Student Union Building, 15200 Kutztown Road, Kutztown. The program will feature tributes, fundraisers, workshops, ceremonies, discounts and a luncheon and is hosted by the university’s Office of Veterans Services. Student veterans and military-affiliated students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend. Registration for the entire list of events can be found here.
Virtual Veterans Day ceremony, 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11: Ceremony will include remarks from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Interim Adjutant General Col. Dr. Lisa Hou, Col. Walter Nall, state Sen. Vin Gopal, and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson. There also will be a virtual wreaths processional, benediction by The Rev. Gerard Appel, and closing remarks by the foundation’s Director of Development Jillian Decker. The program can be accessed via the foundation’s Facebook page and Youtube page, as well as posted on the foundation’s website following the event. The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial will be open on Veterans Day and is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, guests must adhere to this list of safety precautions found here. The Vietnam Era Museum remains closed to the public until further notice.
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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at email@example.com.
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