On November 11th, the nation pauses for a day of reflection to honor America's veterans. Originally called Armistice Day--World War I ended at the eleventh hour on November 11, 1918--the name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954, to honor those who fought in all wars. In Portland, Maine, Veterans Day is observed with a parade and a wreath-laying ceremony.
The city of Portland honors its veterans with an annual parade on November 11. The parade begins at 10:30 in the morning, although those who wish to watch the parade should arrive at least half an hour before it starts. The parade wraps up around noon after reaching its destination.
Portland's Veterans Day parade follows a route that makes its way through the heart of downtown Portland. The parade begins at Longfellow Square, which is located at the intersection of Congress Street and State Street and contains a large monument dedicated to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The parade route continues northeast up Congress Street and passes through the center of the city before ending in front of City Hall.
On the morning of November 11, onlookers line Congress Street to wave flags and pay homage to America's veterans. A wide variety of people march in the parade, such as current servicemen and servicewomen, as well as veterans from many wars, from World War II to Iraq. History buffs enjoy seeing a fife and drum corps dressed in traditional uniforms from the Civil War. The parade also features marching bands from area schools and local Boy and Girl Scout troops.
Upon reaching City Hall, the parade is followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at which "Taps" is played. The ceremony continues with speeches from members of the local and state government. Following the parade, the University of New England's Portland campus hosts a ceremony that honors veterans on the front lawn of Hersey Hall.