STATESVILLE, NC (WBTV) - Shots from a 21-gun salute rang out over Statesville Sunday afternoon to honor a dozen World War Two veterans who came to celebrate the "Spirit of '45."
That's when Japan surrendered in 1945, signaling the end of the War.
It was a defining moment for that generation and the anniversary is a reminder that freedom isn't free.
"It means the same thing to me it did then. In other words, I would give anything to protect it," said Dick Norris, who was a young Private First Class. Norris was heading to Japan when victory came.
Despite the decades, the memories are fresh.
"My job in the Navy was to repair aircraft engines," said James Brooks. At the age of 86, he said sometimes age is the aggressor now.
"At times, putting two and two together is hard, you forget dates," said Brooks.
However, he speaks of the experience like it was yesterday. Brooks said he has written 11 volumes documenting his wartime.
"Your pride is just bigger than the shirt you put on every morning, that's for sure," he said.
Organizers of the ceremony say their goals was to honor, celebrate, and remember the heroism of men like Brooks.
They gathered at the World War Two memorial in downtown.