Local News

Veterans Day filled with celebrations, commemorations

Posted November 11, 2014 5:23 a.m. EST
Updated November 11, 2014 10:33 p.m. EST

— Before dawn in downtown Raleigh, members of the North Carolina Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) stood guard at the campus Bell Tower to herald Veterans Day.

It is the 96th time the nation has paused to honor those who serve – at home and abroad, active duty, retired and those long gone.

Veterans Day traces its roots to the end of World War I. Fighting stopped between the Allied nations and Germany on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. One year later, American President Woodrow Wilson declared that day, Nov. 11, as Armistice Day. It became a legal holiday in 1938.

NC State began its annual celebration with a run and remembrance ceremony at the Bell Tower. It is but one of countless of events large and small taking place across the state and the nation. 

After the run, Nicolas Le Chatelier, president of the Compiegne-Raleigh Sister City Committee, laid a wreath at the memorial on behalf of the citizens of Raleigh's French sister city and site of the 1918 Armistice agreement.

The Bell Tower was built as monument to honor NCSU alumni killed in World War I. Construction began in 1921 and the tower was dedicated on Veterans Day in 1949. 

Later in the morning, 10 veterans will take part in a special naturalization ceremony in Durham, becoming U.S. citizens at the county Health and Human Services Building. More than 3,000 people nationwide have taken the U.S. Oath of Allegiance this week.

Veterans are being honored with breakfasts, music, speeches and praise at events in Chapel Hill, Spring Lake, Cary and elsewhere.

Gov. Pat McCrory visited the future site of the Veterans Life Center in Butner, which is being designed to serve homeless veterans and those struggling with mental health, substance abuse and other problems hindering their transition into civilian life.

"It's wrong that any vet is homeless, and we're going to do anything we can to get their life straightened out again, get them back on their feet, help them with any physical or mental issues they're dealing with, and this is another step forward to making that happen in North Carolina," McCrory said.

The governor also attended a Veterans Day ceremony in Butner, where he embraced the oldest veteran in the room, 96-year-old World War II Army serviceman Richard Plott.

In Fayetteville, Veterans Day events ended with a flag retirement ceremony at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum.

James Brown, who attended the ceremony, was 18 when he served in Vietnam.

“I was a member of the 101st Airborne Division, and the 101st lost two to one to every other group at Vietnam so we had a lot of things that you don't want to remember,” he said. “Everybody should remember that freedom is not free.”