Every year at this time, Coke associates pause to honor the veterans and members of the U.S. military who sacrifice to serve their country and protect our freedoms. We hosted several occasions this week to celebrate Veterans Day.

Coca-Cola began its support of U.S. military troops in 1941 during World War II when former Company President Robert Woodruff committed “to see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for five cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the Company.”  That same decade, the Company began a more than 70-year partnership with the USO.  Today, the Coca-Cola system provides more than 2.5 million beverage servings per day to active-duty members of the armed forces, reservists, retirees and their families.  In addition, throughout the year, many marketing programs pay tribute to and reward veterans for their service.

Hundreds of Coca-Cola associates, including Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, helped support active-duty military members with a USO Care Package. Atlanta-area employees pitched in to fill more than 10,000 packages with items such as batteries, Odwalla bars, phone cards and personal letters of thanks from Coke team members.

“The Coca-Cola Company has a proud history of standing behind America’s men and women in uniform, which dates back more than 70 years,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company. “We continue that tradition today by partnering with organizations like the USO, bringing veterans into the Coca-Cola workforce and refreshing the members of the extended U.S. military family millions of times around the world each day.”

Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent and his wife, Defne, filling USO Care Packages.

This year at Coca-Cola, Veterans Day is even a bit more special. In May, Coca-Cola Refreshments made a pledge to offer at least 800 job and career opportunities to military veterans in 2012. As of this week, that commitment has been surpassed, with 807 new members joining the Coke family from our armed services. This Thursday, the Company hosted its 13th annual Veterans Day ceremony, which included special remarks from the Secretary of Labor, who joined President & CEO Coca-Cola Refreshments, Steve Cahillane, in recognizing the Company’s rich heritage with veterans and the military. Find more details on this milestone and what our next steps are on our website.

For those in Atlanta, we’re also hosting a Veterans Day celebration at The World of Coca-Cola this Saturday, Nov. 10. Pemberton Place, the park right outside the attraction, will be home to Humvees, helicopters and other military equipment as the Veterans Day parade passes right in front of the attraction. We’ll also have a special demonstration by the U.S. Army Silver Wings Parachute Team, so don’t miss a moment of the action if you’re around the city this weekend! In addition, there’s an ongoing Armed Forces Appreciation ticket offer for members. Hope to see you this Saturday!

World of Coca-Cola in Pemberton Place Park