PORTSMOUTH - Tributes were paid Monday to America's military men and women who've served this country in all wars.
Since 1884, Portsmouth has held a parade and today marked the 124th annual event began at 11:00 a.m. with 65 units participating.
Earlier in the morning at Conaway Cemetery on Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, service members gathered to honor the 850 fallen from seven countries who are buried there. Union and Confederate soldiers who lost their lives during the Civil War are also laid to rest there.
"It's one of the best-kept secrets in Virginia. It sure is. It's a very historic cemetery for the fact that we have people buried here from all over the world," said Al Cutchin, Command historian.
Flags marking each country and each war were placed by Cub Scout packs 14 and 48 from Suffolk and Brown Troop 641 from Chesapeake.
The cemetery is based on old English law that, according to Cutchin, requires anyone in the service who was not a convicted felon to the right of a decent burial.
"So, if a sailor came into port and met his demise, we, being the host country, had to be sure they were taken care of- not only in the food, drink and shelter while they were living, when they passed away we would also take care of them," he explained.
The ceremony included the laying of a memorial wreath and Lt. Col. Jeffrey C. Christman, USMC retired, played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.
Today's ceremony featured speeches byRear Adm. Matthew Nathan, Commander, NMCP, and Capt. Richard Berkey, Commander, Norfolk Naval Rep. Thelma Drake (R-VA) and Portsmouth Mayor James Holley were among those who attended the Fleet Reserve Association Memorial Service.
Cutchin says the oldest known burial in Conaway Cemetery is of Seaman George Butler, 23, originally of Bath, England, who served in the U. S. Navy onboard USS Constitution. Butler fell off the yardarm of "Old Ironsides" when it came to rest in the Norfolk harbor. He died from his injuries and was buried August 1, 1838.
Other remembrances were held at historic Fort Monroe in Hampton and the Hampton National Cemetery.
In Virginia Beach, veterans and community leaders gathered at the Tidewater Veterans Memorial on 19th Street to honor the sacrifices of the men and women of the US Armed Forces.
The ceremony also marked the 20th anniversary of the memorial, which is across from the Convention Center.
In Williamsburg, the American Legion Post 39 held a ceremony at Williamsburg Memorial Park. Lt. Col. R. Mark Teixeira of Fort Eustis, a West Point graduate and war veteran, was the speaker.
At 3:00 p.m. Monday in downtown Norfolk will be the official unveiling of a Chesapeake man's effort to create a national flag to honor those who died in the service of this country.
George Lutz's son, Tony, was killed in Iraq in December 2006.
Now, Mr. Lutz has created the and has started an online petition drive in hopes of getting Congress to approve it.
The ceremony will be held at The MacArthur Memorial.
In North Carolina, all flags are being flown at half-staff to honor those who died in service to America.