On Saturday, Roanoke celebrated Veterans Day with the annual Virginia’s Veterans Parade downtown, inclusive of all that we have become accustomed to for such events: marching bands, military equipment, flyovers, and lots of waving American Flags. Veterans Day, of course honors those who have served in the U.S. military and has its roots in Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, both following the horror that was World War I. Less than 10% of the American population living today are veterans— about 19 million in total. Gulf War Era veterans now represent the largest share of U.S. veterans and there are only about 240,000 World War II veterans remaining alive.
Most veterans are men (nearly 90%), but women are anticipated to make up nearly 20% of veterans by 2046. Similarly, the number of African-American, Hispanic and Asian veterans is expected to increase by 2046. Just as our overall population diversifies, so to do those who join the military, though it remains young non-Hispanic males who most often serve in our Nation’s military.
Following the parade, a more somber reality associated with military service was commemorated, with a wreath-laying ceremony at Freedom Plaza in downtown. This event honors both those who have served, as well as those who have lost their lives while in service. Nearly 80% of veterans alive today served during wartime. We must never forget that all those who serve in the military may find themselves serving during wartime and may even see combat, regardless of what they signed up to do or when they signed up.
I want to thank all who have served, for their service and to their families that have sacrificed so much alongside them during their time of service. Please join me in recognizing this service and these sacrifices. Happy Veterans Day!
-- Bob Cowell