Veterans Day was conceived as Armistice Day when President Woodrow Wilson announced it would commemorate the end of World War I in 1918. It is a day meant for reflection, pride and gratitude to honor vets. It was turned into Veterans Day by proclamation in 1954 to honor veterans of all foreign wars, since “the war to end all wars” clearly did not. A number of events in the Bay Area are free in commemoration of Veterans Day, 2014, which falls on a Tuesday this year. For Veterans Day meals, discounts and deals, visit militarybenefits.info.

National Park Service rangers in San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Free National Parks Day
Muir Woods National Monument
1 Muir Woods Road
Mill Valley, Ca 94941
(415) 388-2595
www.nps.gov/muwo Date: Nov. 11, 2014 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Many of America’s battlefields, monuments, forts and historic sites are connected to military events. Therefore, it’s entirely appropriate that the United States National Park Service honors all veterans by extending free admission to everyone for the day. At Muir Woods, fee waiver includes parking and the full $7 adult admission; children under age 16 are free. Enjoy walking trails beneath the natural majesty of the giant redwoods, the Bay Area’s own national monument.

At San Francisco’s Presidio (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Presidio Officers’ Club
50 Moraga Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94129
(415) 561-5444
www.presidioofficersclub.comDate: Nov. 11, 2014 at 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The newly restored historic landmark has been transformed as a public space and a multifaceted cultural destination with dynamic exhibitions, dance, music, theater, lectures and a new Mexican restaurant called Arguello, complete with a heated outdoor terrace. A giant flagpole, authentic cannon and 30,000 uniform gravestone markers at San Francisco National Cemetery as viewed from the Cemetery Overlook, the Golden Gate in the distance, set the mood for Veterans Day in the former military base that has been claimed by three different countries. Head for the new Presidio Heritage Gallery for a meaningful introduction to an important chapter in the story of San Francisco, California and America’s development since 1776.

USS Potomac Veterans Day Cruise
540 Water Street
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 627-1215
www.usspotomac.orgDate: Nov. 11, 2014 at 11 a.m.

Climb aboard a National Historic Landmark, FDR’s “Floating White House,” the former presidential yacht. The 165-foot-long vessel is now restored as a memorial to the president who led the United States through the World War II years. At 11 a.m. on Veterans Day, the USS Potomac tours San Francisco Bay for 2.5 hours, including the Alameda Naval Station, USS Hornet, Jeremiah O’Brien and the submarine Pampanito. Tickets are available here.

San Francisco Annual Veterans Day Parade
Market St. to Civic Center
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 554-6036
www.facebook.com/pages/San-Francisco-Veterans-Day-ParadeDate: Nov. 10, 2014

Balloons and brass and marching bands are mixed with solemn ceremonies and personal remembrances from coast to coast. In San Francisco, the date has been celebrated for 95 years. The 2014 parade is stepping off at 11 a.m. sharp on Market Street at Second Street, turning right on McAllister Street and winding up at City Hall in Civic Center decked out with grandstands.

San Jose Annual Veterans Day Parade
Plaza de Cesar Chavez
San Jose, CA 95113
www.uvcscc.orgDate: Nov. 11, 2014 at 11 a.m.

One of the largest parades in Northern California is organized by the United Veterans Council of Santa Clara County to honor all who served or currently serve their country. The event begins on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month with a memorial ceremony at Plaza de Cesar Chavez on Market Street. The colorful parade steps off at noon from Delmas Street, continuing east along Santa Clara to Market Street before proceeding south past the reviewing stand at Park Street opposite Plaza de Cesar Chavez near the Tech Museum, then ending at San Carlos Street.

Mountain View Veterans Day Ceremony
650 Franklin Street
Mountain View, CA
www.facebook.com/events/970814596267927

Date: Nov. 11, 2014 at 11 a.m.

The Inaugural Mountain View Veterans Day Ceremony at Eagle Park, the future home of the MV Veterans Memorial.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on Examiner.com.

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