Every November 11 we set aside the day to honor our military veterans for the sacrifices they made and danger they faced on our behalf. Beyond a fervent “thank you” to the veterans in our lives, the Valley offers other ways we can honor former military members, from parades to ceremonies and other events.
Read on for our list of events, but first, check out these interesting Veterans Day facts courtesy of History.com.
- Veterans Day began as Armistice Day in 1919 to commemorate the first anniversary of the end of World War I. It became a national holiday in 1938.
- President Eisenhower changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954.
- In 1971, a Congressional law moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October, however, President Ford changed it back in 1975.
- The U.S. currently boats 23.2 million military veterans with 9.2 million veterans over the age of 65, 1.9 million veterans under the age of 35 and 1.8 million female veterans.
- There are still 2.6 million living veterans who served in World War II (1941-1945).
So, where can you go to honor these brave men and women?
Daisy Mountain Veterans Parade
Anthem hosts one of larger parades, featuring more than 100 entries from floats to marching bands and military vehicles to a wide range of patriotic groups. For the 12th annual parade, the focus will be on Gulf War veterans.
Location: Starts at Gavilan Peak Parkway and ends at the Community Center, Anthem
Hours: 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 5
East Valley Veterans Parade
While it takes place in Mesa, this privately funded parade pulls more than 2,000 participants and 40,000 spectators from all over the East Valley. They bring patriotic floats, marching bands, a range of vintage military vehicles and the signature Fallen Soldier Memorial, plus fly-overs by vintage WWII planes and plenty more excitement.
After the parade, head over to the Mesa Arts Center for a free Veterans’ Benefit Concert.
Location: Starts at W. University Drive and N. Center Street. It heads south to W. First Street and then west to end at N. Robson.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, November 11
Phoenix Veterans Day Parade
More than 45,000 spectators will line the streets of downtown Phoenix to watch 2,500 participants pass with floats, military vehicles and marching bands pass, plus a World War II plane fly-over. The popular parade also features 8 Veteran Grand Marshals representing every era of the military since World War II. For its 20th anniversary, the parade’s theme is “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes,” and pays respect to an oft-neglected group of veterans.
Location: The parade starts Montebello and Central Avenues. It proceeds south to Camelback, then across to 7th Street and finishes at Indian School Road.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, November 11
Tempe Veterans Day Parade
Stand along Mill Ave. in Tempe and watch as the Tempe parade — a six decade tradition — rolls past with classic cars, muscle cars, marching bands, a color guard, members of the Tempe police, and plenty of other patriotic groups. A short ceremony will follow in the park and then a picnic for participants and sponsors.
Location: Mill Ave., Tempe from ASU Gammage to Tempe Beach Park
Hours: 10 a.m. on Friday, November 11
Veterans Day Parade & Pancake Breakfast
The city of Surprise hosts its second annual parade with marching bands, patriotic groups and more. Before the parade, treat yourself to a pancake breakfast catered by Nick’s Diner.
Location: Begins at Surprise Recreation Campus, 15960 N. Bullard Avenue
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. pancake breakfast; 9:30 a.m. parade on Friday, November 11
Cost: Free for parade; $4 pancake breakfast
Website: Parade flyer
Anthem Veterans Memorial 5th Anniversary Celebration
Honor our veterans, and celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Anthem Veterans Memorial, with a 70-minute ceremony that features decorated veterans as speakers, live musical performance and a four-plane F-16 flyover from Luke Air Force Base that coincides with the memorial’s 11:11 a.m. solar spotlight. A special tribute will go to veterans of the Gulf War.
Show up early for a pancake breakfast, a “Thank a Veteran” card station, music and fly-overs of historic planes.
Location: Anthem Veterans Memorial, 41703 N. Gavilan Peak Pkwy., Anthem, AZ 85086
Hours: 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. pancake breakfast; 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ceremony on Friday, November 11
Cost: Free for ceremony; $5 adult, $1 children for pancake breakfast
Gilbert Veterans Day Ceremony
Join the city of Gilbert as it pays homage to veterans with a presentation of colors, patriotic music from local schools, a guest veteran speaker, and free food and refreshments courtesy of local restaurants.
Location: Civic Center Campus, 50 E. Civic Center Drive, Gilbert, AZ
Hours: 11 a.m. on Friday, November 11
Glendale 14th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony
This hour-long ceremony features a keynote speech by Chief Master Sergeant John Sawyer from Luke Air Force Base, followed by a flag raising ceremony and light refreshments.
Location: Glendale Main Library Auditorium, 5959 W. Brown St., Glendale
Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Friday, November 11
Goodyear Veterans Day Tribute
Pay tribute to our veterans with a ceremony featuring military displays and public performances, a keynote speaker and an interactive flag garden.
Location: Goodyear Ballpark, 1933 S. Ballpark Way, Goodyear
Hours: 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 11
9th Annual Gathering of Legends
For Veterans Day, the Commemorative Air Force Aviation Museum hosts several military aviation veterans from World War II, including guest speaker and Pearl Harbor survivor Jack Holder. You can listen to him discuss his combat experience, including at the Battle of Midway and Coral Sea. Then look at exhibits and get up close with vintage WWII airplanes.
Location: CAF Airbase Arizona Museum, 2017 N. Greenfield Rd, Mesa
Hours: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 12
Cost: $15 adults, $5 kids 5 to 12, $12 seniors, free of kids 5 and under
17th Annual Veterans Day Gourd Dance & Community Potluck
Pueblo Grande Museum puts its own spin on Veterans Day with gourd dancing at 11:30 a.m. and a potluck to honor those who served. You can bring your own dish to share.
Location: Pueblo Grande Museum, 4619 E Washington St, Phoenix
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, November 11
Arizona Thunder Run Veterans Rally
Grab your hog and head out to WestWorld in Scottsdale on Veterans Day weekend to join fellow motorcycle enthusiasts. Drool over motorcycles, hot rods and other classics on display or for sale, browse vendors and enjoy live entertainment, including a Cold Hard Cash tribute band. Also on display at this family friendly event will be the Vietnam Moving Wall.
Location: WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 North Pima Road, Scottsdale
Hours: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, November 11; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 12; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 13
Cost: $15 adult (one day), $25 adult (three day), $10 veterans (one day, at the gate), free for kids under 12
Bob and Bing’s Road to Victory
Entertainer Bob Hope was a fixture of USO tours and his routines and radio broadcasts for the troops — especially those with his on-air foil, Bing Crosby — are legendary. Enjoy a Veterans Day recreation of Bob Hope’s popular variety show with talented impersonators, not only for Bob and Bing, but W.C. Fields, Jack Benny and other period entertainers.
Location: Higley Center, 4132 E. Pecos Road, Gilbert
Hours: 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 11
Cost: $31 to $49
Veterans’ Benefit Concert
Following the East Valley Veterans Parade, the Veterans’ Benefit Concert will start. It features live entertainment from bands like Walt Richardson, Robby Roberson Band and smootmahooty, plus food trucks and more. Any donations will go to the Housing Our Heroes program for homeless veterans.
Location: Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St, Mesa
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, November 11
– Justin Ferris, Phoenix.org