"We should remember the history and the veterans of all wars," says Leonard C. Cassaro, who'sgrandfather, great uncle and cousin all served in the millitary.
Hundreds of veterans were on hand at the 73rd Annual Veterans Day Dinner to thank the present, but also to remember the past.
"I've been in so many close calls," says 94-year-old Fred Ohm, who participated in more than 150 combat missions in World War II. "When you're holding your last breath, that is your biggest moment."
A man who's credited for at least 6 kills in combat wishes it never came to that.
"It's certainly too bad that human beings can't get along without killing each other," Ohm added
The dangers of battle reminded those who survived to teach their sons how precious life is.
"My father served during the Korean War," said Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey. "He was stationed up in Newfoundland, he was in the Air Force. There are so many individual stories of families that we need to appreciate. It's a part of our history, and our connection to state history, our nation's history and really to world history."
Veterans connecting with the present, remembering the past, and in one case finding the fountain of youth.
"I see better at night now than I did before when I was younger," said Ohm. "It doesn't bother me to drive."