U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to serve American military veterans by improving their access to education and medical benefits.
In a speech Sunday marking the annual Veterans Day holiday, Mr. Obama said his administration is helping veterans to obtain a college education and "pursue their dreams." Speaking at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, he said authorities also have introduced benefits for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange, a herbicide sprayed by U.S. forces to clear vegetation used as a cover by guerrilla forces.
A member of the U.S. Marines Corps looks at the graves in Arlington National Cemetery. November 11th, 2012, Arlington, VA. (VOA / D. Manis)
Members of Riverside Military Academy from Gainesville, Ga., march down Baker Street during the 31st annual Veterans Day Parade in Atlanta, Saturday, November 10, 2012. (AP)
Early morning sun lights headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va., as the country commemorates Veterans Day, November 11, 2012. (AP)
American expatriates walk through rows of crosses following a wreath-laying ceremony to mark U.S. Veterans Day at the American Cemetery at suburban Taguig city, east of Manila, Philippines, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP)
Jimmy Bacolo, right, of Staten Island, N.Y., a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars 5195 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, N.Y., attends the Veterans Day observance at the 9/11 Memorial, in New York, November 10, 2012. (AP)
Members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps take part in the Flags Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Nov. 10, 2012. (Coast Guard / Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando)
Kevin Carpenter, of Nassau County Chapter 82 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, ties a yellow ribbon to the tree that survived the terror attack, during the Veterans Day observance at the 9/11 Memorial, in New York, November 10, 2012. (AP)
Joseph Manning, right, of Raynham, Mass., and his son Joey, 6, a Cub Scout, place U.S. flags at the graves of deceased veterans at the National Cemetery in Bourne, Mass., Nov. 10, 2012. (AP)
Mr. Obama also highlighted his fulfillment of a promise to end U.S. military involvement in Iraq, noting that Sunday is the first Veterans Day in a decade in which there are no American troops "fighting and dying" in that country. He said 33,000 U.S. troops also have returned from Afghanistan as a transition begins to Afghan government control of the country following a decade of war.
Mr. Obama said more than one million U.S. service members will transition to civilian life in the next few years. He said the United States has a sacred obligation to take care of them.
Before the speech, the U.S. president placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Communities across America traditionally hold Veterans Day observances and ceremonies. Federal offices are closed Monday in recognition of the holiday.
The Veterans Day holiday began as a U.S. observance of Armistice Day in 1919. The United States and its allies declared an armistice with Germany to end the First World War one year earlier, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Britain also marked the anniversary with a Remembrance Day ceremony at London's Cenotaph war memorial, where Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family honored the war dead of the British Commonwealth.
In Paris, French President Francois Hollande commemorated France's war dead by laying a wreath at the Arc de Triomphe.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.