MCCAMEY - Despite the somber weather, hundreds of people came out to McCamey to pay tribute to veterans, past and present, at the town's Veterans Day celebration and memorial unveiling. Former military men, like Jack Bend and his fellow West Texas vets, grew emotional as their names were announced over the mic.
"Speechless. It does your heart just great, you know that you've done something for your country," Bend said.
The memorial features a central piece called the Wall of Honor, which has the names of veterans permanently imprinted on the stone. The entire project was seven years in the making. Officials say resurrecting the memorial was a community effort to remind people of McCamey that "freedom is never free."
Bend knows this all too well; he spent 40 years in the military and unfortunately had to watch many of his comrades die defending America.
"Anybody that you talk to they'll tell you in a minute that they love standing on that wall defending this country because it is the best country in the world to fight for. Period," Bend said.
Bend also said that he and most soldiers would agree that they'd much rather prefer fighting on enemy territory instead of bringing the threats to the homeland.
92-year-old Iwo Jima survivor, M.C. Duncan would say his heart's in the same place. He was one of the vets who received a special thanks at the ceremony and his family traveled from around the state to witness.
"He is our family's hero basically. So this day to us is just come together and support our grandfather and let everyone know how proud we are of him," his granddaughter, Melanie Bradley, said.
She and the family also used the opportunity to share some of his stories, like the one depicted on their T-shirts about how Duncan knew all the WWII flag raisers and would have been one of them if only he had been wearing his shoes at the time.
While stories, names and memories live on, they also want their kids to remember something else.