After losing both of his legs and one of his arms, a young Marine who was serving in Afghanistan, was back in his hometown Sunday afternoon.
For a town of 2700 people, you'd never guess swarms of traffic would come through Ararat.
But when the news is about a hometown soldier who lost both his legs and his right arm while serving his country, people tend to show off their support.
At only 21 years old, Jeremy Benjamin Kerns is still alive to tell his story. "I have no regrets what happened,” said Kerns. “I knew exactly what could happen when I signed up but I love this country."
Kerns was serving in Afghanistan when he was hit by an explosive in April. Five months later, he's back home in Ararat.
Kerns was escorted to the Dan River Park for a welcome home picnic.
Hundreds of people surrounded him and all were beaming with pride.
Celeste Windham drove hours to show her support. She doesn’t know Kerns but she says Kerns is her hero. "How young he is and he's gone through so much and he's still going. He's got one hell of a backbone," said Windham.
Kerns was serving as a Combat Engineer for the Marine Corps.
Since his injuries, Kerns is able to walk on his own. His family says he's adapting well to his new prosthetics.
After serving three tours overseas, Kerns' family and friends can't wait to see him again.
The Ararat community decorated his hometown with red, white and blue on every corner.
Kirk George is a volunteer fire fighter in Ararat. Even though he doesn’t know Kerns, he’s thankful for what he’s done. "Without people like him doing what he does, we can't do our livelihood every day," explained George.
Kerns doesn't want people to feel sorry for him. Instead, he says he wants to set a brave example. "No matter what's happening to you, keep your head up. Look at what happened to me. But I keep my head up every day and I keep going. Life's too short to live with regret," said Kerns.
For many people a simple thank you wasn't enough to express their gratitude.
Both family, friends and even strangers, say they feel they have an obligation to their new hometown hero.