JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida Governor Rick Scott honored more than 240 Florida veterans with the Governor's Veterans Service Award Tuesday at the National Guard Armory on Jacksonville's Westside.
"I was so thrilled," said Air Force veteran Barby Ramsey.
One-by-one, Scott presented a token of his appreciation and thanked each of the 244 service members.
"Every one of these veterans has a story. We had somebody that just turned 100 years old, served with General Patton. It's really fun to hear all of their stories," Scott said.
They each have stories to tell, including stories of strength.
"Being with people from all over the world enlightened me and gave me the courage to go out and meet people," Ramsey said. "It makes you appreciate so much what we have and I've been grateful all of these years that I was able to travel and meet interesting people."
And they have stories of overcoming fear at war.
"I have a hard time dealing with it. Most of us don't like to talk about it," said Navy veteran George Tatlas. "When you're a young person, 22 years old, it's terrifying."
Most of the veterans who attended the ceremony met for the first time, but said they all have an unspoken bond.
"We're a brotherhood because, in spite of the 100-year-old gentleman from WWII or one of our youngest veterans at the age of 22, this is a unique club that most civilians will never understand," Tatlas said.
It may be just a medal, but to the veterans who received it, it means so much more.
"It means that somebody still cares. That's what it means," said Marine Corps veteran William Karandos. "It makes us feel like we're part of something again."
The veterans said if they could go back, they would not think twice about serving all over again.
"Most of the people in this room that you see that are Vietnam veterans volunteered because we cared about our country and we cared about what the flag stood for," Tatlas said.