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National D-Day Memorial holds in-person Veterans’ Day ceremony

Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 7:18 PM EST
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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - After a year pause for COVID-19, veterans, families, and community members gathered in-person once again to celebrate Veterans Day in Bedford.

“To those who have served in combat, or in peace time, in active duty or in reserve, we as a nation are ever mindful how your service kept and continues to keep this nation strong and secure,” said Gary Mignogna, the chair of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.

It’s a day set aside to celebrate and honor the brave.

“They served our country and so we should respect them,” said 10-year-old Louis Wood.

All ages are able to understand the simple purpose of the annual gathering, both the young and the not-so young.

Sgt. Daniel Villarial is 92 years old and a World War II veteran. He joined the Marines at just 18 years old.

“Been overseas, been back, spent time in Israel for that war in 1948, got called back to Korea in ‘50,” explained Villarial.

After a life dedicated to service, he says the day is not about him, rather the ones who came before him and the ones who will come after.

”When you see the World War II veterans you know they’re getting older and they’re not going to be around very much longer, but I was so touched they were here with us. Our children aren’t going to be able to see them but I’m going to say I was out for them and I was honoring those veterans and that just means the world,” said sophomore AJROTC student Anna Payne.

“Every time I see them I say these kids are doing great. They may just be the next generation of saving the country,” said Villarial.

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