Americans remembered wars and celebrated peace Friday in towns big and small with memorial services and parades that saluted the nation's servicemen and women on Veterans Day.

Parades were held in Salt Lake City and Pittsburgh, and memorial services were held starting at 11 a.m., the time the Armistice was signed in 1918 marking the end of World War I.President Reagan visited Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to honor the nation's war dead. He said the Vietnam war was a just cause, "however imperfectly pursued."

Reagan said a major lesson of the Vietnam war should be that "young Americans (must) never be sent again to fight and die unless we are prepared to let them win."

In his speech, Reagan said the U.S. government was doing everything possible to learn whether Americans are still being held against their will in Southeast Asia. He said that unless the Hanoi government can assure America that this isn't so, "we will assume they are and will do everything we can to get them home."

Earlier, Reagan spoke to a huge crowd gathered in the amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River from the capital.

President-elect George Bush issued a statement Friday calling on all Americans to "honor the true patriots of our great nation."

"This is a special Veterans Day _ it is the first since President Reagan formally signed into law the bill that created a Cabinet-level Department of Veterans Affairs," Bush said. "This is a distinction that America's veterans have earned and richly deserve."

In Southern California, former President Gerald Ford was set to dedicate a new George Patton Memorial Museum in Riverside County. The ceremony featured a flyover of U.S. Air Force planes and a balloon release.

In San Diego, a Vietnam veterans group said it wants to redress what it believes is an official government snub of the USS Pueblo captain and crew who survived 11 months of captivity in North Korea in 1968.

Angered by the exclusion of retired skipper Lloyd Bucher and his former crew from a Defense Department prisoner-of-war tribute in September, Vietnam Veterans of San Diego invited Bucher to deliver a keynote address Friday.

"The U.S. government needs to step forward and say, `Yes, these men were military personnel on a mission.' "

The spy ship Pueblo was seized off North Korea in January 1968. One crewman was killed by enemy gunfire and the other 82 men aboard were held captive _ and often beaten and tortured _ until their release was negotiated in December 1968.

A centenarian regarded as the last surviving veteran of the Spanish-American War era celebrated by sending a greeting to U.S. military personnel around the world.

Nathan Cook, 103, who lives in the Veterans Administration Medical Center nursing home in Phoenix, telefaxed a message to 500,000 American men and women serving at 21 military bases and on numerous American warships.

The greeting is part of Lanier Voice Products Division's "From America With Love" program, designed by the telecommunications firm to ensure that every member of the military receives a letter from someone on Veterans Day.

In Los Angeles, veterans planned an evening salute at the Navy-Marine Corps Reserve Center for Bob Hope, who entertained troops overseas along with USO performers.