"What the hell else would I do with my life at this time?" he said.
At the National Cemetery in Bourne, Mass., on Cape Cod, about 1,000 people including Cub Scouts and Gold Star Mothers gathered on a crisp fall day for a short ceremony.
They then spread out to plant 56,000 flags amid the cemetery's flat gravestones, transforming the green landscape into a sea of fluttering red, white and blue.
Until last year, the cemetery did not permit flags or flag holders on graves. That changed under pressure from Paul Monti of Raynham, Mass., whose son, Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, was killed by Taliban fighters while trying to save a fellow soldier in 2006 in Afghanistan. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor and is buried at the Bourne cemetery.
Paul Monti led a brief ceremony Saturday where the pledge of allegiance was recited, Miss Massachusetts sang the national anthem and a dedication was read.
In the Mojave Desert in California, veterans plan to resurrect a war memorial cross that was part of a 13-year legal battle over the separation of church and state.
The Sunday ceremony on Sunrise Rock follows a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that argued the cross was unconstitutional because it was in the Mojave National Preserve.
The Supreme Court intervened in 2010 and directed a court to consider a land swap, leading to a settlement that transferred Sunrise Rock to veterans groups in exchange for five acres of privately owned land.
Henry Sandoz, who cared for the original cross as part of a promise to a dying World War I veteran, will re-dedicate a new, 7-foot steel cross on the same hilltop.
Thousands of spectators are expected to line Fifth Avenue for New York City's Veterans Day Parade on Sunday.
Former Mayor Ed Koch is the grand marshal for the parade, which will run for 30 blocks, starting at 26th Street.
Also marching will be the Navajo Code Talkers, who transmitted coded messages during WWII, and other veteran groups.
Some participants in the parade are collecting coat donations for Superstorm Sandy victims.
The theme is "United we Stand" and the parade marks the 200th anniversary of The War of 1812.
The parade begins at 11:15 a.m. after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Eternal Light Monument at 24th Street. Bleachers and a reviewing stand are located at Fifth Avenue and 41st Street.
A few hundred people attended a Veterans Day parade Saturday in downtown Atlanta.