TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the past five years, Altrua, a business in the state's capital city, has picked a hometown hero to honor during the Veterans Day parade.
This year, there were two, both of whom are World War II veterans.
"It's just amazing what these guys did during that period of time and they weren't ever asked to do it. They just did it because it was the right thing to do for our country and for the world," said Skip Smelko, president of Altrua Global Solutions.
This year's selection of veterans of the Second World War was no coincidence. June 6 marked the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings.
Following behind the marching bands and floats, veterans Bryce Thornton, who took part in the invasion, and Julius Fisher, who helped bring supplies to the front lines, took center stage on Monday.
They were then honored in a special ceremony.
"The sacrifice that these guys made for our freedoms and what we have here today is second to none," Smelko said.
Both veterans were given gift cards, a year's worth of home cleanings, letters from U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and other tokens of appreciation.
But Thornton said he doesn't think of himself as a hero.
"I'm pledged to defend this country just like you are, and so when I was called, that's what I done," Thornton said. "I was able to come back, have a good life. A lot of my friends didn't come back."
Organizers said they're fortunate to have had the opportunity to honor the two men this year.
The country loses about 350 WWII veterans each day, and the Department of Veterans Affairs predicts the last will be gone by 2044. That would be the 100th anniversary of the Normandy landings.