Let us sing for unsung heroes,

Those who lay their dreams aside.

Choosing honor more than glory,

Pledging faith with quiet pride.

Those whose uniform is courage,

Yet are unashamed of tears.

Finding in their love of freedom

Power stronger than their fears.

— Pamela Martin and Joseph Martin

Aurora Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin read those words from "Song for the Unsung Hero" as she, Congressman David Joyce, American Legion Post No. 803 Commander Al Podboy and about 35 veterans, Aurora firefighters and other residents, thanked the Aurora area veterans for their service Monday morning.

"We know we have something rare and special in America because people continue to want to come here and make their homes here, to express their opinions here, and to live and prosper here," said Womer Benjamin, calling veterans the "vanguard" in defense of the nation’s freedoms.

Speaking at Veterans Memorial Park in Aurora, Joyce said the nation’s veterans "exemplify the true character of the American spirit, courage, honor and country."

"Every year on Nov. 11, we have the honor to support and stand up for the men and women who have so selflessly been standing up for our nation," he said. "It’s my privilege to share this day alongside all of you."

Podboy explained the four pillars of the American Legion: veterans’ affairs, national security, Americanism, and children and youth.

He particularly wants area residents to remember veterans and current service members who participated in the War on Terror.

"I like to think of our young veterans," said Podboy. "We always think of our World War II veterans as ‘The Greatest Generation.’ These young people are now serving multiple tours of duty. They’re all volunteers, and it’s our longest war. We’ve been doing this 2001. These men and women show up day after day, tour after tour. We can’t forget them."

When members of the Armed Services take the oath to defend the Constitution, Podboy said they take it seriously and don’t forget it after their military service concludes. Members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars continue contributing though those organizations as members of the community, he explained.

They contribute to sports, support the Boys and Girls State program and a variety of other community programs, he said.

"This is where Aurora excels," he said, referring to the "Americanism" pillar. He said the Legion also helps coordinate special stops on the school’s trip to Washington, D.C., making sure students have a chance to see Gettysburg and other key sites in the nation’s capital.

Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, bgaetjens@recordpub.com or @bobgaetjens_rpc.