The Atascadero Veterans Memorial Foundation hosted its annual Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Faces of Freedom Memorial in Atascadero to honor veterans of all wars who have not only served but sacrificed for our freedom.
"We spend today remembering the men and women of our armed forces through the centuries who have come together to fight for a common cause," said guest speaker Lt. General Scott Black.
"Freedom and the challenge of getting freedom," added Vietnam veteran Gilbert Mendez.
Dozens of war veterans of all branches of service were recognized for defending and protecting our nation.
"I was a helicopter mechanic and machine gunner in Vietnam," said Marine veteran Ken Foran.
"I was in the United States Navy," said Cmdr. David Brooks, U.S. Naval Reserve Retired. "I enlisted in 1953 because of the Korea, the event was taking place."
Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I. That officially took place on November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.
"When I came home from the service, nobody knew who I was. They didn't really care and so this is quite a little different," said Richard Williams, World War II veteran.
"For the most part, they're ordinary people who have been placed in extraordinary circumstances and they're people who know the true meaning of courage and justice," said Lt. General Black.
"We're all brothers and sisters in arms. We have to remember a lot of ladies served as well," said Cmdr. Brooks.
Two distinguished veterans of the year were honored -
Bonnie Meyer, who served in the Army Air Corp in Iowa, Colorado, Italy, and Germany from 1944 to 1946.
"It's been very special and I'm grateful for my family and friends that are here," Meyer said.
And 96-year-old LeRoy Max Bowery, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
"One particular day in June 1944," read San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Debbie Arnold. "Max's destroyer picked up the crew of a bomber that was forced to make a crash landing into the water. The pilot and two crew members were safely returned to their carrier by the crew, Max's crew in exchange for 30 gallons of ice cream. The pilot on that particular plane was George H. W. Bush who later became the President of the United States."
"I find it difficult to express eloquently my feelings of appreciation," Bowery said.
A local Quilts of Honor guild presented quilts to some local veterans made with love, prayers and healing thoughts.
"Don't be afraid to say 'thank you,'" Cmdr. Brooks said. "It means a lot to the veterans. I know it means a lot to me."
"May God bless the United States of America where because of all the service members today and the veterans of yesterday, we are still the land of the free and the home of the brave," said Lt. General Scott.
The family members of those who served were also recognized during the event for being strong and resilient as well.