The Saturday ceremony was held at a home in rural Stephenson County decorated with flags lining the walkway, and inside, family and friends surround former World War II Marine Kenneth George.
"It is so important to show love and gratitude to our veterans,: says Barb Martin with Hospice Care of America, and coodinator of the 'We Honor Veterans' program.
Inside the home sitting beside George is a picture of the once 17-year-old man who lied about his age to sign up. Medals in another picture frame reveal the valor he showed while fighting in the brutal battle of Iwo Jima, the site of an iconic moment when fellow soldiers raised the American flag in victory.
Nearly 70 years later, other fellow soldiers will show a nation's gratitude, with a veteran's service pin. "We pay special tribute to you for your military service to america, and for advancing the univeral hope of liberty and freedom for all," a man in dress blues tell George as he places a pin on George's lapel. A military salute of respect -- a sign of the lifelong bond shared by of all who serve.
"The bond is unbreakable," says George's son-in-law, former Marine Keith Kuhn. "It lasts forever, and is the strongest bond you will have your entire life."
The 'We Honor Veterans' program has done 150 ceremonies like these in the Rockford area this year alone. Most of those honored are aging, or ailing, but still resolute about the reason they served. "I did it because i love my country," George says.
Serving a nation which can still learn from the man who embodies the values our greatest generation.
"We had to learn tand we did learn to work together as a team," he continues. "That's the way to accomplish things. It's just a must. Love thy neighbor .. that saying is really true."
Near the end of the ceremony, George's son leads the room in a Marine cheer. "I'm proud to be the son of a Marine," he tells the crowd. Your son. OORAH!"