Veterans and their families were honored Friday by Carson High School's Naval Junior ROTC students with a moving tribute to those who served, those who died, and those who supported and mourned.
"I cried all the way through," said Dayton VFW Cmdr. Stan de Stwolinski.
More than 75 veterans and their families joined a host of students gathered in Senator Square for the annual Veterans Recognition Ceremony, something the school has been doing since Sept. 11.
Veterans of World War II were lauded for having "saved the world"; speakers praised Korean War vets for persevering under extreme cold and violence in "the forgotten war"; and Vietnam War vets were acknowledged as not having been given the honor they deserved due to a divided nation.
Gulf War vets and those currently in uniform who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan were recognized, as were those who didn't fight in a "hot" war, but served during the tense period of the Cold War.
All branches of the service were honored, as were those missing in action and their families, and former POWs.
All received warm rounds of applause, but many veterans said the most poignant moments for them was when families who lost sons in Iraq or Afghanistan rose.
"What choked me up was the parents that lost their sons," said Primo Quarisa, of Carson City, a veteran of the Korean War. "If that doesn't choke you up, well, I don't know."
Susan McElfish, who was there to honor her nephew, Joshua Rodgers, who was killed in Afghanistan, has a family dedicated to service. In addition to her nephew's sacrifice, one son Matthew is stationed in Korea and another, Michael, is in basic training in Georgia.
She was touched by the number of students who attended the ceremony.
"This is a great ceremony," she said. "It's good to see kids support the troops. And we're seeing a lot more kids enlisting."
Edward Schober, whose son, Anthony, was killed in Iraq, said pride was his strongest emotion through the ceremony, along with gratitude for the ceremony.
"I'm very proud of my son," he said. "And these kids, they're fantastic. They're honoring all the vets now, including the Vietnam vets."
Also honored were the Blue Star Moms and the Gold Star Moms, the first for their support of the troops from the homefront and the second for the sacrifice of their loved ones.
"We started inviting Blue Star and Gold Star families last year," Cmdr Skip Cannady, instructor of the NJROTC, said. "They should be recognized."
Sally Wiley said the Blue Star Moms goal was to take care of the veterans, and especially offer support to their families, and hoped more families of men and women serving now would join.
Her son, Sgt. Sean Diamond, 40, is in the 14th Army Engineers, working to rebuild Iraq, and has served two tours of duty there.
The young people serving their country now were not lost on the students who led the ceremony, either.
"It brings up a lot of emotion," said NJROTC Company Cmdr. Chelsea Milburn. "We have friends that are overseas right now, so it's very meaningful."
The Carson High School Choir sang and, a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" and a bugler played taps.
"I like this program," said Ron Guzman, a veteran of the Korean War. "I'm up here pretty much every year. The kids were polite and quiet, they listened to the ceremony."
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-7351.