Emporia, Kansas is honored to be the founding city of the national holiday Veterans Day. In 1953, Emporian Alvin J. King garnered support to change Armistice Day, honoring WWI veterans, to Veterans Day, to honor all military veterans for their service.

U.S. Rep. Ed Rees of Emporia presented King's idea in Washington, D.C. which passed the House and Senate, and a bill establishing Veterans Day as a national Holiday was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (raised in Kansas). Emporia celebrated Veterans Day in 1953 and the first nationwide observance of Veterans Day was on November 11, 1954.


The All Veterans Tribute is a celebration honoring our service men and women. Festivities include the Veterans Day Parade, Veteran Artist Exhibit, Quilts of Valor, Essay and Poster Contest, FreedomFest and more.

All Veterans Tribute! Schedule of Events

All Veterans Tribute! Parade Entry Guidelines

All Veterans Tribute! Parade Entry Form
Patriot Guard


The Emporia Convention and Visitors Bureau is accepting Veteran Profile Information forms for inclusion in the 2016 All Veterans Tribute tabloid listing of military veterans. As the founding city of Veterans Day, Emporia, Kansas hosts the All Veterans Tribute every November. The Tribute is a series of events dedicated to honoring veterans. 

The All Veterans Tribute tabloid is published by The Emporia Gazette and includes names of military veterans who have completed and submitted a Veteran Profile Information form to our office. 

If you have not submitted a form and would like to have your name included in the listing see links below. A family member can complete a form for a deceased veteran. 

Profiles must be completed by October 1, for inclusion in the 2016 list.

Click here to read the Veteran Profile Information 

Click here to complete the 
Veteran Profile Form


Banners dedicated to individual veterans are hung along Commercial Street every year prior to Veterans Day. Stroll downtown and pay tribute to men and women who served our country and protected our freedom. 

Veterans banners are a project of:
Emporia Main Street
(620) 340-6430
Veteran Banners


All Veterans Memorial

933 S Commercial St, 620-342-1600 or 800-279-3730
This memorial features a World War II M-4A6 Sherman army tank, Vietnam Veteran Memorial with Huey Helicopter, USS Oliver Hazard Perry anchor and Purple Heart Memorial. Daylight to 11 pm.

Civil War Veterans Monument

Fremont Park, 4th Ave & Union St

Civil War Veterans Monument

Maplewood & Memorial Lawn Cemeteries, 2000 Prairie St

Mexican-American World War II Veterans Memorial

St. Catherine’s Church, 205 S Lawrence St

Spanish-American War Memorial

Peter Pan Park, S Neosho St & Kansas Ave
All Veterans Memorial.JPG
American Flag
2006 All Vets Tribute logo-hi res
Read the full story in an article published in The Emporia Gazette about the history of Veterans Day:

Emporians lead the nation in establishing Veterans Day

A Day to Honor Veterans

Published in The Emporia Gazette on November 1, 2003 By Roberta Birk Mlynar Special to The Emporia Gazette

Without Emporia, Kansas, there would be no Veterans Day; it's as simple as that.

The holiday – 50 years old in Emporia and 49 years old nationally this year – began through the efforts of an Emporia shoe repairman, Alvin J. (Al) King. 

King and his wife Gertrude had helped bring up his nephew, John E. Cooper, who was serving as part of the Third U.S. Army in Germany when he was killed in action on Dec. 20, 1944. Pfc. Cooper, an ammunition handler with Company B, died during an enemy counterattack in a forest outside Habkirchen, Germany, according to a letter to the family from Army Chaplain Charles H. Washburn. 

"John was struck and instantly killed by shrapnel from an exploding enemy artillery shell," Washburn wrote in a letter dated April 11, 1945. "He is buried in the United States Military Cemetery at Limey, France. One of our Protestant chaplains gave (John) a Christian burial and read appropriate Scriptures and prayers.

"Grief over the young man's death apparently started King looking for a way to honor not only his nephew, but all veterans who fight during wars and serve during peace to keep America free.

King thus began his campaign to change an existing national holiday – Armistice Day – to Veterans Day. He gained the cooperation of the community’s American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AmVets and War Dads units, plus support from an essential ally, U.S. Rep. Ed Rees of Emporia.

Rees agreed to take King's idea to Washington, D.C., where it passed the House and Senate. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill establishing Veterans Day as a national holiday. The nation held its first Veterans Day on Nov. 11, 1954.

Emporia, however, had organized its first celebration, called "All Veterans Day," the previous year.

Ninety percent of Emporia storeowners had decided to close their businesses for the day, and the Emporia Board of Education followed suit. As a result, most Emporians were free to take part in or watch many of the events.

The Emporia Gazette and Emporia Times newspapers reported a full slate of activities that began with a parade at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 11, 1953. At 11 a.m., civil-defense sirens, church bells and power-plant whistles marked the formal beginning of the event; the timing acknowledged the signing of the armistice that ended World War I at 11 a.m. of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918.

The American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps stood at Sixth Avenue and Commercial Street to play “Taps” after the whistles and bells, and the Kansas City AmVets Drum and Bugle Corps stood nearby to sound the echo.

Hot dogs, beans and coffee were served free in the basement of the Civic Auditorium. A wheelchair basketball game followed, featuring the Rolling Pioneers of Kansas City against a town team that included names familiar still to long-time Emporians – Malcom Smith of the Lowther Junior High School faculty, Carl Haney, Jerry Waugh and Gene Ridenour of the Emporia High School staff; Leslie Hayes of The Emporia Gazette; Keith Caywood of Kansas State Teachers College faculty; and Tom McGahey of Olpe High School.

The drive-in theater showed a free movie and a free dance closed the day's events.

Then-Kansas Governor Edward F. Arn watched the parade from the reviewing stand and, according to a newspaper account, "exclaimed, 'This is a wonderful thing. It should be done in every city of the nation.'"

By the next year, it was.

Veterans Day Pioneers

General Chairman – Alvin J. King.
General Committee – Lee Wheeler, V.F.W. Post 1980; James J. Bradfield, Ball McColm Post 5, American Legion; Floyd E. Davis, AmVets, Emporia Post #12; Everett Banister, American War Dads, Chapter #87.
Program Committee – Ernest Cipra, Deloy Heath, John C. Patton.
Finance Committee – Thomas Sutton, Ralph Phillips, Clyde House, Arthur L. Rigdon, John A. Gilliland.
Treasurer – Deloy Heath.
Publicity Committee – Frank Lill and Milo Sutton.
Food Committee – LeRoy D. Brickley, Austin Andrews, and Carl Dabbs. Secretary – Mrs. Gertrude King.
Contact with Military and Government Officials – Richard Mankin, R.W. Reigle Sr., and R.W. Reigle Jr.

Tablets of Honor

Sodens Grove All Veterans Memorial

Located at 933 Commercial Street in Emporia, Kansas, the All Veterans Memorial is open year round and FREE to the public. The memorial was dedicated May 26, 1991, and was the first to honor all veterans from the Civil War through the Gulf War. 

The most recent project at the All Veterans Memorial is Tablets of Honor. A name plate can be purchased to Honor a special veteran. The plate includes first name, last name, branch of service and rank. Each nameplate and tablet is contained within the appropriate campaign wall recognizing services members of that period

For more information on the All Veterans Memorial and Tablets of Honor,  visit their Website and follow them on  Facebook.