Veterans Day commemorations vary from the unique to the traditional Friday.
President Barack Obama plans to attend the first college basketball game to be played on an active Navy aircraft carrier after laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery's patriotic ceremony.
Parades are planned in many communities. The stock market will be open but banks and most government offices will be closed.
Veterans Day comes less than two months before all U.S. troops are due to leave Iraq and while nearly 100,000 still serve in Afghanistan.
At 11 a.m. EST at Arlington National Cemetery, a wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the Tomb of the Unknowns, followed by a ceremony inside the Memorial Amphitheater, adjacent to the Tomb, officials said. A prelude concert by the United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" is slated at 10 a.m. inside the amphitheater.
This year's event will be hosted by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki; Russell C. Vowinkel, Commander-in-Chief of the Military Order of the World Wars; and Major General Michael S. Linnington, Commander of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington and the Joint Force Headquarters–National Capital Region, according to Arlington officials.
Ceremonies are also planned at many national cemeteries. The Department of Veterans Affairs has a complete list here.
In San Diego, preparations were under way Thursday aboard the USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier that buried al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden at sea.
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On Friday afternoon, coaches Tom Izzo of Michigan State and Roy Williams of No. 1 North Carolina are confident their teams will put on a great Veterans Day show for the approximately 7,000 in the crowd, including Obama, the nation's basketball-fan-in-chief, plus a national TV audience.
The nuclear-powered carrier stretches 1,092 feet, weighs 95,000 tons and has four steam catapults that can accelerate a jet fighter from 0 to 165 mph in just more than two seconds.
Obama's stop in San Diego launches his Asia-Pacific trip.
The president plans to leave Friday for Hawaii, where the U.S. will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, bringing together 21 member nations comprising 40 percent of the world's population.
Obama also is scheduled to lay a wreath at a memorial to the USS Peary, a U.S. Navy destroyer attacked and sunk by Japanese bombers.
From Hawaii, he makes a long-delayed visit to Australia, the president visits the capital, Canberra, as well as Darwin, site of an Australian military base.
Among other U.S. Veterans Day activities:
- Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will hold a roundtable with veterans in Mauldin, S.C., while Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, plan to participate in the Columbia Veterans Day parade, according to The State. Former Sen. Rick Santorum is expected at a town hall meeting in Florence, S.C.
- In New York, following a 10 a.m. ceremony with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Madison Square Park, the Veterans day parade begins 11:11 a.m. on 5th Avenue. Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. will ride on a float alongside members of the Tuskegee Airmen. Gooding stars in "Red Tails," a movie about the airmen. For Occupy Wall Street, singer Joan Baez will host the "11/11/11" Veterans Day Rally at Foley Square from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- In Douglas County, Ga., 12th annual Veterans Day Lighted Parade is scheduled to step off Friday at 7 p.m. from Douglas County High School in downtown Douglasville.
- In Chicago, Union Station's Great Hall will be turned into a red, white, and blue salute to veterans where hundreds of FifthThird bank employees and veterans will assemble 530 care packages that will be sent to soldiers serving in Afghanistan. They will also award $100,000 in educational scholarships to families of soldiers wounded or killed in the line of duty. Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to an afternoon ceremony at the event.
- In Louisville, The Massing of Colors and Veterans Day Parade steps off at 11:11 a.m. with the 113th Army Band from Fort Knox and as grand marshal, Ken Stumpf, a Medal of Honor recipient and Vietnam veteran from Minnesota.
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