Those who attended the Illinois Veterans Home Veterans Day program in Lippincot Hall were treated to music, speakers, a 21 gun salute and more on Monday.
But veterans both in the audience and on the stage said to them, this day just means a little more.
“It means service, it means generosity, it means giving more of yourself then you could ever give,” Quincy dentist and U.S. army veteran Dr. Jennifer Pritts said.
Deployed to Afghanistan shortly after the birth of one of her children, she says she still remembers her husband’s advice about fire fights.
“Keep one of your magazines for yourself, keep your darn head down and give the remaining magazine to someone who can actually hit something,” she said. “Because he knew all too well that I could not hit a target.”
Veterans in the audience said their lives are defined by their service.
“The Marine Corps is the best thing to ever happen to me. Absolutely fantastic. I love them to death. They’re my brothers,” Chuck Vespa said.
A Navy corpsman who served three tours in Vietnam, Vespa said days like Monday are special to him because he remembers when that wasn’t the case.
“The change in the way we’ve been reacted since Vietnam is just incredible. I was fortunate enough to see the parade come by here and they were so friendly,” he said.
But, Pritts said there’s more that can be done.
“I feel like there are a lot of veterans, especially here at the Veterans home that don’t have a lot of visitors and don’t get a lot of one on one communication and warmth and caring because they don’t have any family left,” she said.
Pritts said sometimes it’s the simple things that mean the most.
“Little things like saying thank you and just being there,” he said.