It’s been a busy Veterans Day for American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill.
Hill made several stops in the morning and early afternoon, including attending the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery as a special guest. It was the first time Hill had attended Arlington’s Veterans Day ceremony, and it came on a day featuring rain and temperatures that barely broke 50.
“It was impressive,” Hill said of the experience. “It was a lousy day today, and I didn’t see any empty seats. It was pretty packed. It’s a very solemn occasion, and I thought it was well worth being there.”
Hill had an up-close view of President Barack Obama placing a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown. Obama later spoke during the ceremony, praising previous generations of veterans and those currently serving in the military.
“In this time of war, we gather here mindful that the generation serving today already deserves a place alongside previous generations for the courage they have shown and the sacrifices that they have made,” Obama said. “In an era where so many acted only in pursuit of narrow self-interest, they've chosen the opposite. They chose to serve the cause that is greater than self – many even after they knew they'd be sent into harm's way. And for the better part of a decade, they have endured tour after tour in distant and difficult places. They have protected us from danger, and they have given others the opportunity for a better life.”
Obama had traveled to Fort Hood in Texas for a memorial service honoring the 13 victims of a shooting rampage last week. “We gathered in remembrance of those we recently lost. We paid tribute to the lives they led,” Obama said. “And there was something that I saw in them; something that I see in the eyes of every soldier and sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman that I have had the privilege to meet in this country and around the world -- and that thing is determination.”
Following the ceremony at Arlington, Hill quickly made his way to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Constitution Gardens. In a steady rain, Hill placed a ceremonial wreath along the famed memorial wall.
Hill started the day with a breakfast at the White House hosted by President Obama. Hill was among several other representatives from veterans service organizations attending the breakfast.
Hill was scheduled to attend a reception at the White House this afternoon hosted by Vice President Joseph Biden in honor of Diamond Jubilee Berlin Air Lift veterans and their families. Tonight he will offer an address during the farewell reception for the Diamond Jubilee Berlin Air Lift.
“(My normal) days aren’t normally filled with services like this,” Hill said. “There are days packed with visits to posts, but there aren’t as many days as meaningful as what is happening today.”