Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) At 11 a.m. on 11/11, church bells rang throughout the village of Owego.
The crowd at the Tioga County Veterans Memorial paused to bow their heads in silence and pray for those who gave their time to serve.
The memorial was built 26 years ago. Etched in the stones are 173 names. Names of fallen soldiers from Tioga County.
A color guard composed of veterans from all of the military branches marched toward the memorial in silence.
Last in line was Lee Spinner. He fought in Iraq in 2005 and 2006.
"I was involved in multiple IED [improvised explosive device] explosions on vehicles I was in and suffered traumatic brain injury," Spinner said.
Just a few men up from Spinner was his dad, Leroy Spinner. Leroy spent two tours in Vietnam.
"What can I say, we are a military family," Leroy Spinner said.
From the distance, Spinner's son watched on.
"It makes you feel proud to know they've done something that is bigger than just themselves or something else," Andrew Spinner said.
Andrew plans to follow in his father's and grandfather's footsteps.
The fifteen-year-old said he plans to join the military after he graduates high school. He hopes to stand in a color guard one day.
The ceremony concluded with the singing of the national anthem.
"It's nice to know no one has forgotten these people," Andrew said, gesturing toward the memorial.
The organizer of the ceremony said that was his goal this Veterans Day, to make sure veterans see gratitude.
"If you are near a veteran now, please take a moment to say "thank you" for your service and your sacrifice," veteran Jim Raftis said. "We want them to say 'thank you' to a veteran, for their service and sacrifice because many of us came back from Korea, Vietnam, and we never got a 'thank you.' And it means so much."
Raftis is working with other Owego veterans to raise money for an expansion of the monument. Some of the names are on temporary plaques, and he hopes to change that soon.