When veterans get together, whether veterans of wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, they remember those they have lost. But not the way that you might think.
"We don't sit and cry over those who we've lost. We tell stories about them," said Kelley Macek, second vice for American Legion Post 64 and a veteran of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. "Through the stories, the scenery changes, but it doesn't matter. He tells about Vietnam, and I tell about Iraq."
Ceremonies like the one held on Monday morning at Pittsburg High School also help bring those veterans of different eras together. Students gathered on one side of the gym while veterans had their own special seating for the ceremony.
Grant "Hank" Sanley made remarks about the POW/MIA table set up nearby, explaining the meaning of each present — and absent — item at the table set for one and what it represents in regard to those missing in action or prisoners of war. Those items included a rose, a candle, an American flag, one chair at the table, and a white tablecloth.
The ceremony continued with Post 64 Chaplain Jerry Waltrip reciting the famed poem "In Flanders Fields," written by John McCrae, a Canadian mourning after the death of a fellow soldier during World War I.
PHS trumpeters Sebastian Johns and Andrew Woodburn played "Taps" before yielding the microphone to USD 250 Superintendent Destry Brown, who delivered the main address.
Brown noted the roots of Veterans Day in the history of Armistice Day.
"In the early 1900s, World War I began, and it was the bloodiest ever on the world stage. Thirty-six million lost their lives, and 20 million were wounded. Thirty-six million is the entire state of California," Brown said.
Then, in 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice was reached to end World War I. President Woodrow Wilson would later commemorate Nov. 11 as Armistice Day. After World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day was extended to all veterans and renamed Veterans Day.
And it's a mix of past and present veterans that the day not only served on Monday, but serves every year.
"Many of those out there serving today are not but one, two, three years older than you," Brown told the students in the audience. "They are standing in the gap for you and me. They put it on the line every day."
With students who have much of their lives ahead of them, Brown made sure to note the possibilities provided to those students through the sacrifices made by veterans.
"Those dreams you all have for your future... What do you want to do when you leave high school? Think about what it would be like if you didn't have a choice," Brown said. "Remember that these guys fought and are fighting for you."