Adam Laurich, senior vice commander of VFW Post 2377 in Glendale Heights, asked the veterans who attended the village's Veterans Day ceremony on Sunday to stand and come forward.
"These are the people who stood proudly, raised their right hand and said: 'Yes, I will serve my country,'" Laurich said. He then turned and faced the veterans. "You are my heroes."
Laurich's tribute was one of many paid veterans all over the suburbs Sunday. The Glendale Heights ceremony took place in Veterans Memorial Park, an oasis of reflection near village hall. Dozens of people attended -- local veterans, their family members, police, firefighters and grateful members of the community.
Terry House, commander of Post 2377, said Veterans Day is a time to honor those in the community who've served their country in the past and those who continue to be on the front lines today.
"Think about the soldier or marine sleeping in the most remote corner of the world -- no pillow, no bed -- leading a life of loneliness, danger and uncertainty," House said.
House said he and other veterans are grateful for the respect they received at events like Sunday's ceremony.
"When members of the armed forces sow the seeds of respect, that respect comes back tenfold," he said. "Today is an example."
The ceremony concluded with the laying of a memorial wreath, a 21-gun salute from Post 2377 and a solemn rendition of "Taps."
Afterward, resident Felix Cantu, a veteran who served during the Vietnam War, said events like Sunday's ceremony are very important to him.
"Not everyone I served with made it back," he said. "To this day, it doesn't matter where I hear it -- a baseball game, a football game or wherever -- the national anthem always gets me a little choked up, because I'm here and they're not."
Cantu wished more people from the community had attended the ceremony.
"I know people are busy, but this service was not long," he said. "It's like this for other things too -- the Fourth of July, Memorial Day. The local veterans deserve more support."
After Sunday's ceremony, Post 2377 hosted a community pig roast and picnic, at which holiday care packages were prepared for troops serving overseas.