COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Despite the COVID-19 pandemic restricting a large, in-person ceremony, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum reached a national audience with its 2020 virtual Veterans Day event.

A half hour ceremony debuted on the museum’s Facebook page featuring comments from veterans and notable figures.

Col. William Butler, U.S. Army (retired), welcomed viewers and said, “Veterans remind us that there’s so much more that unites us than divides us. Veterans remind us that there are tough societal issues in our country, but the military somehow figures it out. Veterans also remind us that freedom isn’t free and it comes at a very dear price.”

The museum is open to visitors several days a week with stringent safety measures, and has been offering virtual events and discussions throughout the pandemic.

“We can reach across the country, coast to coast. We’ve reached hundreds of thousands now since COVID first arrived,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, the president and CEO of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.

Local and national leaders and celebrities sent video well-wishes to veterans and their families during Wednesday’s virtual event.

“As a fellow veteran, I congratulate my fellow veterans who have served this wonderful nation of ours,” said former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, U.S. Army (retired).

Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo said, “When I think of Veterans Day, it reminds me of my friends who bravely served in the armed forces to protect our beautiful country.”

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D- OH District 3) said, “Each day on the 11th day of the 11th month, our nation pauses to pay tribute to our veterans.”

Lt. Gen. Ferriter urged viewers to reach out to veterans who may be isolated during the health crisis.
“We work to unify and build up communities, regardless of differences… because just like our military teams, we are stronger together,” he said.

Until November 22nd, the museum is hosting a virtual run and walk. Find details here.
A special exhibit featuring watercolor portraits of veterans is on display until March 21st. Learn more here.

You can watch the full Veterans Day ceremony by clicking here.