America wouldn’t be the country it is today without the sacrifices and dedication of its veterans. Whether they fought in the Korean War or just retired last week, they’re owed our gratitude.

“For nearly 250 years, our veterans have defended the values that make us strong,” remarked President Joe Biden this week, ahead of the Veterans Day holiday on November 11. “They are the solid-steel backbone of our nation, and we must endeavor to continue being worthy of their sacrifices by working toward a more perfect union and protecting the freedoms that they have fought to defend.”

These photos—from Veterans Day celebrations and recognitions across the nation—seek to honor all those who served.

a Navajo Code Talker waves from a car in a parade
Navajo Code Talkers, heroic World War II soldiers who transmitted coded messages in their native language, participate in New York City’s Veterans Day Parade. Staton Rabin, New York, 2012
a person in a World War Two uniform sits next to an American Flag
During a Veterans Day parade in Petaluma, a participant wears a World War II soldier’s uniform as an American flag waves behind him. Joe Luchok, California, 2017

participants take part in a powwow honoring former military members
Members of the Taos Pueblo community participate in a powwow where an honor guard salutes Native American veterans. Daniel Brown, New Mexico, 2017
American flags fly on top of green tractors
A show of respect and admiration for our troops doesn’t always have to be a huge spectacle. Flags placed roadside among a line of tractors serve as a subtle tribute to our veterans. David Ellis, Arizona, 2022
a Sailor has a medal pinned on his shirt by his daughter
In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, many events were canceled, but our military continued on. With masks covering their faces, an incoming commander is pinned by his daughter while his son watches. Candice Baker, Bahrain, 2020

two hands pass an American flag
An older veteran, who has helped protect America’s democracy for future generations, passes on a small U.S. flag to a child. Paul Mudgett, Nevada, 2019
Congressional gold medals sit on display
Congressional gold medals to be presented to the descendants of World War II veterans are lined up in preparation for an event honoring Chinese American veterans. Donna Lau, California, 2021
sailors wearing white standing next to the water
From onboard a ship on Elliott Bay, outside of Seattle, the white uniforms of seamen at attention stand in contrast to the blues of the sky and ocean. Michael Martinez, Washington, 2014
a group of Cub Scouts watch a parade
Cub Scouts display their patriotism as they observe a Veterans Day ceremony in Newburyport. Jim Vaiknoras, Massachusetts, 2018

an unfurled American flag is carried during a parade
Members of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a program that trains more than 300,000 cadets annually, carry an unfurled American flag during a Veterans Day parade. Ty O’Neil, Nevada, 2016
the back of a man is shown as he salute's a row of flags
The attire of this Navy veteran of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts helps tells his story. John F. Warden Jr., Nevada, 2015
gold and blue fighter jets in formation in the sky
The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, known as the Blue Angels, performs overhead at a Veterans Day event in Pensacola. Justin Beebe, Florida, 2017
thousands of American flags stand in a field
A veterans monument in Pepperell is decorated with thousands of American flags, each honoring a fallen service member of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nicholas DePasquale, Massachusetts, 2020

a group of former members stand in line with the Washington Monument in the distance
Veterans with various physical disabilities hiked together across state lines, ending their journey at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall. Laura Aceto, Washington, D.C., 2016

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