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Veterans Day Observed

The nation celebrates the wartime sacrifices of its troops

By Dante A. Ciampaglia | null null , null
Honor guard members stand in formation beside the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery during a Veterans Day ceremony Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007, in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo: ©Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Images)
Honor guard members stand in formation beside the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery during a Veterans Day ceremony Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007, in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo: ©Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Images)

In 2008, Veterans Day is as important as ever as soldiers return home from Afghanistan and Iraq. On Tuesday, Americans will celebrate Veterans Day by honoring the sacrifice and service of those who have fought in the armed forces during wartime.

Parades and wreath-laying ceremonies are regular Veterans Day activities. But a special event will be happening in New York.

The USS Intrepid, a World War II-era aircraft carrier launched in 1943 that has been refitted as the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, will be rededicated Tuesday after a two-year restoration and renovation.

The Intrepid is one of the most storied vessels in the naval fleet. After serving in World War II, it became an important part of the American Cold War effort. (The Cold War is the term used to describe the intense rivalry that developed after World War II between Communist and non-Communist nations.) The carrier did three tours of duty off the coast of Vietnam. It served as one of the primary recovery vessels for NASA. It aided in submarine surveillance in the waters of the North Atlantic.

Despite its history and importance to America, the Intrepid was almost lost to time. In 1974, the Intrepid was retired and its next port was the scrap yard. But thanks to the Intrepid Museum Foundation, founded by Zachary Fisher, the USS Intrepid was saved and given a new mission.

Since 1982, the Intrepid has been docked at Pier 86 in New York City and has served as a museum and an educational resource. Visitors to the Intrepid can explore the carrier, interact with exhibits, and see up close an extensive collection of aircraft and water vessels, including the USS Growler submarine and the British Airways Concorde, once the fastest jet in the world.

Today, the Intrepid is a national historic landmark and a "monument to all who have served our nation in uniform."

"We owe our troops nothing short of our gratitude and respect for their service and sacrifice for our freedoms," said Bill White, president of the museum.

On Veterans Day, the Intrepid will be a central piece of the national celebration of the holiday when it is rededicated.

President George W. Bush will be among the attendees at the rededication ceremony. He will be on the Intrepid to accept the 2008 Intrepid Freedom Award. The award is presented to a national or international leader who has distinguished himself promoting and defending freedom and democracy.

"This is only the second time a sitting President has visited us, and we believe it says a great deal about the importance of Intrepid's mission to support and honor our heroes—our troops and their families—educate the public, and inspire our youth," White said.

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum reopened to the public on November 8.

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