By Donna Miles, American Forces Press ServiceNovember 8, 2006
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 7, 2006) - With National Veterans Awareness Week underway and the national Veterans Day observance on Nov. 11, the Veterans Affairs secretary is urging all veterans to show their pride by wearing their military medals.
R. James Nicholson's "Veterans Pride" initiative calls on veterans to wear the medals they earned while in uniform this Veterans Day to "let America know who you are and what you did for freedom," he said.
The campaign is modeled after a tradition in Australia and New Zealand, countries that honor the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, or ANZAC, every April 25. The observance originally commemorated more than 8,000 Australians killed during the battle of Gallipoli during World War I, but now honors all Australian and New Zealand veterans.
Last year, while attending ANZAC ceremonies in Sydney, Nicholson said he was struck to see all the veterans and surviving family members wearing their military medals and campaign ribbons.
"It focused public pride and attention on those veterans as individuals with personal histories of service and sacrifice for the common good," he noted in a message to veterans. "That is why I am calling on America's veterans to wear their military medals this Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2006."
Nicholson and leaders of major veterans groups announced the initiative during an Oct. 18 ceremony here at the VA headquarters.
Wearing their medals, he said, "will demonstrate the deep pride our veterans have in their military service and bring Veterans Day home to all American citizens."
"We expect Americans will see our decorated heroes unite in spirit at ceremonies, in parades and elsewhere as a compelling symbol of courage and sacrifice on Veterans Day, the day we set aside to thank those who served and safeguarded our national security," Nicholson said at the ceremony.
Nicholson and the veterans group leaders hope to start a new tradition in which U.S. veterans wear their military medals every Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Fourth of July.
More information about the Veterans Pride campaign is posted on the VA Web site, at www.va.gov. The site also helps veterans determine where to go to replace lost medals or to confirm which decorations they're entitled to wear.