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Nation honors war dead

By THOMAS FERRARO, United Press International

At Arlington National Cemetery, Veterans Administration chief Harry Walters placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and said, 'America is No. 1, thanks to our veterans.'

In Richmond, Va., Mick Pope stood before a crowd at the Virginia War Memorial and said 'thank you' to the U.S. troops who rescued him and other Americans from Grenada last month.

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And in Washington, a crowd of 2,500 at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was told American servicemen from the highly unpopular war in Southeast Asia are finally getting the thanks they have long deserved.

Across the nation Friday, America saluted all those who have served in its wars. There were parades down main streets, 'Taps' was heard in cemeteries and comrades were remembered in American Legion halls.

For federal and many state workers, Veterans Day was a day of tribute as well as a day off.

'Today is a day of remembrance,' Walters said at Arlington National Cemetery, which is located on the banks of the Potomac River overlooking the nation's capital.

'We remember those who have maintained our freedom for more than two centuries. We remember this nation as a shining beacon of liberty.'

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Walters served as President Reagan's representative at the ceremonies.

The VA says that since the first colonists fired on the British in the American Revolution about 39 million Americans have participated in military combat. About 1.1 million have been killed.

There are 24.2 million living war vets, including 53 from the Spanish American War, 368,000 from World War I, 11.4 million from World War II, 5.4 million from the Korean War and 8.7 million from Vietnam.

Late Friday morning, church bells across Conneticut rang out for two minutes in honor of the more than 250 U.S. troops killed in recent months in Beirut and Lebanon.

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