Lynchburg, VA - Every Friday, veterans meet at Monument Terrace. It's become tradition and an expected sight downtown. Friday, that tradition turned 11 years old.
Eleven years ago, the U.S. was fighting a war in Afghanistan and Iraq, people were taking to the streets in protest, and our troops were shipped overseas. Now troops are coming home. Still, these veterans won't stop honoring their sacrifice any time soon.
"Can you believe that it's been 11 years now?" we asked Veteran Wallace Gilbert. "Oh gosh, I'll tell you, it's been quite a few years I've been doing this."
"We thought this would be over within two years. Next thing we know, it's 11 years now," said Steve Bozeman, a veteran activist.
Steve Bozeman started the gathering 11 years ago, as a peaceful response to a protest against the war in Afghanistan. It was a gathering to honor our troops.
"When you think about the military, you think about 9/11. A lot of those people did just that: They gave the ultimate sacrifice, so it really means a great deal," said LyDell Morris Hubbard Sr., a veteran.
The ultimate sacrifice was at Monument Terrace on display, where a plaque honors eleven lives lost in the past eleven years in Iraq, Afghanistan, even on September 11. The loss has affected how many view war.
"As a veteran, you don't want to send troops in to harm's way, unless you have a good reason for it," said Bozeman.
This group has witnessed heartbreak. But they've also felt pain together at the foot of this monument.
"Makes me feel good. Every time I come down here and see a bunch of people, it just kind of makes my day," said Gilbert.
Eleven years later, the war's entering the history books, but these veterans will still be here. Now, there's a new battle to fight here at home.
"We have a lot of veterans that live in the street. I'm a veteran myself that's disabled. So, when we can go to the VA and find programs to enhance our lifestyle and improve our lifestyle, that's what it's all about," said Hubbard Sr.
The veterans take great pride in Monument Terrace, even shoveling snow off it in the winter. They are also proud to be the last ones standing. The protestors stopped their marches just five months in to the Afghanistan war.