People who served in the military gathered alongside family and friends to share stories and memories during Veterans Day ceremonies on Monday.

Pastor Chris Webb of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hickory is also a chaplain for the Air Force Reserve, serving for 20 years.

“It’s a true honor to put on the uniform,” Webb said. “Every time I wear the uniform it reminds me that I’m part of a larger group that continues to defend our freedoms … We uphold the values of America.”

Veterans were invited to a service at the church. They were asked to select a Quilt of Valor provided by the Catawba Valley Quilters’ Guild. During the service, 24 veterans were called one-by-one to share their story and be wrapped in their chosen quilt.

“As their pastor and as a chaplain, it’s a real privilege just to walk with them, to honor them and share their memories,” Webb said.

C. John Watts III attended the service. He served in the Army from 1967 to 1970, including a year in Vietnam. “It was like being in the Twilight Zone,” he said.

When asked what being a veteran meant to him, Watts said, “I’ve wrestled with it, because I don’t feel like I’ve done anything but answered my call.”

Retired Navy veteran Keith Lynch attended the Veterans Day ceremony at the Veterans Garden of Honor in the Town of Catawba. His name was added to one of the walls at the garden on Veterans Day 2018. His son’s name, Kevin Lynch, was added to the same wall this year.

“I was very honored to serve my country,” Keith Lynch said.

Lynch said he plans to attend the ceremony each year. “If there is a veteran to be honored, I would be glad to be honored with him.”

Madeline Nunes served eight years in the Army as a mechanic. She said she served during the time of the Gulf War.

“I joined to be part of the service and do what I could for the country,” Nunes said. “I was honored to be able to give back.”

Fran Little, chairman of the Veterans Garden of Honor, asked those attending the ceremony to remember the soldiers who were missing in action.

A table for those missing was set in the center of the garden during the ceremony.

Little talked about a missing pilot, Robin Gatwood Jr., who was lost in 1972. He has yet to be found but his name is printed on one of the walls today in honor of him.

Stephen Shytle, pastor at Catawba United Methodist Church, spoke at the ceremony at the Veterans Garden.

“Those who enlist understand the cost of service,” Pastor Shytle said. “They know there is a chance they will be shot or wounded and they still enlist. That to me has become a distinguishing mark of honor.”

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