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Veterans Day gives Americans the opportunity to recognize and thank veterans of the United States for their service to their country.

Veterans Day is different from Memorial Day, which is a remembrance of those who died in service, while Veterans Day honors living veterans as well as those who are deceased. This weekend, Rome has several Veterans Day programs and events open to both veterans and the general public.

The Exchange Club will be setting up in the Village Building at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds, 1400 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday, where they will have exhibits geared towards helping veterans. There will be tables set up with resources from over 20 groups such as the Purple Heart Association as well as SWAT, EMS and a fire safety demonstration. There will be two flyovers by aircraft from the Museum of Flight and a drone demonstration. John Fortune of the Rome Exchange Club said PAWS will be on site with free pet adoption for all veterans, there will only be six pets on site but PAWS workers will be able to show interested veterans pets up for adoption. He added all pets at PAWS will be free for veterans to adopt today. The Duke Museum of Military History will have a display along with local collectors. Fortune said the event is free for all but really encouraged veterans to come out and take advantage of the event.

As part of the event, Old School Cruisers will host a Veterans Appreciation Day cruise-in with registration from 9-11 a.m. Saturday at Coosa Valley Fairgrounds. Cars, trucks and bikes are welcome. Cost of entry is a toy donation for Toys for Tots. There will be a trophy awarded and a 50/50 drawing.

The Shanklin-Attaway American Legion Post 5 will return to Veterans Plaza on Myrtle Hill Cemetery for their regular Veterans Day program which will start at 11 a.m. Sunday morning. The program will feature the Model High School Band which will play patriotic music before and during the service. Steve Rood of Post 5 said the band will take the place of a speaker; however the rest of the program will remain the same. The Knights of Columbus will serve as part of the honor guard for the ceremony, with members of Post 5 making up the rest. The honor guard will fire a 21 gun salute and play taps during the ceremony. Over 23 veteran organizations will lay wreaths on the Tomb of the Known Soldier, Charles Graves.

“We would love for everyone to come out and join us,” Rood said.

After the ceremony, which should run for about an hour and a half, Rood said everyone is invited to come back the Shanklin-Attaway American Legion Post 5 for free hamburgers and hot dogs. There will also be a raffle drawing for a 2002 Nissan Frontier and tickets are available for $10 up until the drawing.

And the Rome Symphony Orchestra will celebrate Veterans Day with the presentation “Gladiators and Warriors of Rome” Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Rome City Auditorium, 601 Broad St. Veterans receive free admission with ID. Guests of veterans may purchase tickets for $12 in advance or $17 at the door. For reservations email office@romesymphony.org.