ATHENS, Texas (KETK) – The East Texas Arboretum honored heroes today at their veterans memorial site in Athens. Over 100 people were in attendance, recognizing those who have served and those that died in the military.

Speakers for the event included the mayor of Athens, Toni Clay, Henderson County judge, Wade McKinney, Air Force veteran Randy Well and Army veteran and Henderson County judge, Scott McKee.

Students from Athens Christian Preparatory Academy sang songs that brought some of the crowd to tears.

99-year-old veteran James Fling served in the Navy during World War II.

“I just enjoy being alive,” he said.

US Air Force Veteran Dr. Randy Bell explained his experience serving as a dentist in the Vietnam war. He emphasized how in the 1930s and 1940s, things were so different because of the lack of technology. He compared communication back then to a drive in movie.

“They would have a news reel to tell you about things going on in the world,” he said. “I can remember them saying ‘last week we lost 1000 of our finest military’ and no one back home knew if their loved one was included in that until they received a letter.”

This event is hosted every year, if you would like to get involved next year visit the Arboretum’s website.