Saturday was the first Veterans Day celebration at the Stanislaus Veterans Center, which opened in April, and many veterans, some dating back to World War II came together to celebrate their service and view the new facility.
The memories Philip Moyer has when he first became a veteran after serving in Vietnam are not happy.
"We did our thing, and we came home and they spit at us, but we knew we did our job," Moyer said.
That job, serving the country, regardless of branch, is what brought smiles to the veterans who gathered together.
"It’s a solemn observance, but it is also a celebration," said Becky Crow, CEO of the Veterans Foundation of Stanislaus County. "It’s a celebration that our Americans get behind what needs to be done in this world to keep us safe, to fight for our freedom. That’s a really important thing for us to be doing."
Veterans Day served as a perfect opportunity for the Veterans Center, which unveiled its newest addition, pavers in honor of those who have served. People like Moyer, who comes from a family that has produced 27 veterans since World War II.
"It’ll be there forever. It is honoring my dad, who was in World War II," Moyer said. "Now our kids, our grandchildren will forever be able to come here and see their great-grandpa, their grandpa and their grandma."
The center hopes to capture that incredible bond every day as it continues to provide for over 27,000 veterans who live in Stanislaus County.
"Hopefully they may just see someone they might have known and see other people," said Richard Gomez, who served in the Vietnam War. "And who knows, maybe they might rekindle friendships from long ago, those they went to school together, went to the service together. That’s what it kind of means to me."
Veterans Day provided an opportunity to come together and make new memories as a community.
"Respect -- that’s one of the biggest things," Gomez said. "That they are showing respect for what we’ve done, what we’re doing and what we are going to do for them."
"So, so exciting to see the community come out and wrap their loving arms around their veterans, and want to recognize them in some way or another," Crow said.
If you’re interested in adding your name or a loved one's name to the pavement list, you can stop by the Stanislaus Veterans Center. They say they have plenty of spaces available.