Area veterans organizations and residents gathered at the Grundy County Courthouse lawn Sunday to pay tribute to the men and women who have served and are serving in the U.S. military.
The group gathered for the annual Veterans Day observance, which included a short parade from Chapin Park to the courthouse and was comprised of school bands, girl and boy scout troops, local first responders and veterans groups.
At the courthouse, veterans organization leaders gave short remarks on the day and its meaning.
Elmo Ray Younger of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 86 said the day differs from Memorial Day in its focus . On Veterans Day, he said, Americans honor all who served and continue to serve.
"Today we say 'Thank you,' today we stand up for the men and women who fought for us and returned home with scars and wounds of war," he said. "On Memorial Day, we specifically honor those who have paid the ultimate price. Today we honor the fallen, but we also honor those who are fortunate enough to make it home."
He noted that for every military casualty, there are several more soldiers who return home disabled. He also thanked attendees for recognizing their service.
Mike Ebert, adjutant for the John Martin Steele VFW Post 6049, said the day honors all who serve in the armed forces.
"You may have seen or heard the statement, 'All gave some, some gave all.' Today we honor part of that statement — the all that gave some, but by inference, that includes some that gave all."
He touched on the challenges and sacrifices troops face, from physical injuries to exposure to harmful substances like Agent Orange, and those with mental effects, like post-traumatic stress disorder.
He encouraged attendees to continue to remember these sacrifices and thank veterans for their service.
Morris American Legion Post 294 Commander Ken Buck encouraged attendees to keep in mind the challenges veterans face when they return, including unemployment, homeless and other physical needs they might have.
"On this Veterans Day, we should all endeavor to serve our veterans as well as they have served their community and nation," he said. "I ask you to remember the motto of the national commander of the American Legion, that every day is Veterans Day."
He encouraged local businesses to not shy away from hiring veterans.
"We ask that you hire our veterans not just because they are veterans, but because they possess high values and qualities that have been instilled in them by the military," he said. "And those are the same values that you look for in an employee."
He also said special attention must be given to women veterans and their unique needs, as well as veterans who are homeless.
Following the remarks, wreaths were laid by the American Legion Auxiliary, Daughters of the American Revolution and Gold Star Mothers and Families at the various memorials at the courthouse.
Marching bands from Saratoga School and Shabbona Middle School were also on hand, with each group provided patriotic music for the gathering.
After the ceremony, Ruth Herman and Ruth Cheshareck, both of Morris, and the Daughters of the American Revolution packed up their folding chairs.
Herman said coming to the annual observance is something that's important to her.
"I had to," she said.
"I've been coming as long as I can remember," she said.
Cheshareck said their husbands both served, as well as family members and friends.
"We're old enough to remember World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War," she said. "We've seen the sacrifices."
Both women said the service was a nice way to recognize those sacrifices and observe the day.
"It was very good," Herman said.