Most of the veterans honored at Sunday's Quilts of Valor ceremony expressed their appreciation in a few simple words, some fighting back tears as they did so.
Bruce Sones said members of the military are given various things to show appreciation for their service.
"But I gotta tell you, this is probably the most important (honor) from a citizen, and I appreciate that," Sones said, his voice cracking with emotion.
Sones was one of the younger honorees. He served in the Army from 1987-2015, serving in Iraq and in Korea.
The semi-annual ceremony honored 20 veterans — 19 men and one woman. Many were older, including George Nuttle, a 100-year-old veteran who served in the Army and Army Air Corps from 1940-45. As a member of the 73rd Eng, he was sent to Alaska by train, and helped build the Alcan Highway.
Others honored at the ceremony were brothers Danny and Dennis Corrigan, Raul Delgado, William Hamacher, Phil Kalaf, Clayton Krieg, William Lipskoch, husband and wife Steven and Nancy Maxwell, Virgil Prenger, James Rackers, Stanley Scott, Wilbur Streib, Tom Veltrop, Adolph Walther Jr., Tom Ward and Howell Wheaton.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation was started by a mother, Catherine Roberts, in 2003 when her son was deployed to Iraq as a gunner on a Humvee.
She started the foundation to cover all those wounded warriors with physical and physiological wounds with a Quilt of Valor. Originally, the focus was on veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan but has expanded to veterans of all wars and conflicts.
Jan Hobbs, the group leader for Patriot Piecers, the Columbia chapter, said more than 190,000 quilts have been awarded to vets since then, including several hundred from the Columbia group, which has around two dozen members.
Hobbs said her group finds veterans to honor in various ways, including people they come across in stores or restaurants.
"We have a saying. We tell them they can run from us, but they can't hide. We will find them," she said.
She and the other Patriot Piecers create hand-made, full-sized quilts intended to cover the recipients from head to toe.
When they meet to work on quilts, she said, "We chat, and we laugh, and our hearts burst with how much we've enjoyed what we're doing for all the veterans. It's just something we love to do, and we love each other. We're a sisterhood."