Lt. Col. William Hatton wiped tears from his eyes as he spoke to area veterans and Greenville High School students about the sacrifices U.S. military members make to protect the United States and its freedoms.

“I know the value I hold dear is this flag here,” Hatton said, gesturing to the American Flag next to him. “It means the ultimate sacrifice so our nation can survive.”

At the end of the assembly, which featured songs by the choir and band, a dance by the Flaming Flashes and a student salute to veterans, the 30 veterans who attended the program were met by cheers of “U.S.A, U.S.A.”

Many Veterans Day festivities around the area Friday were met with cheers and tears as students, veterans, active military personnel and the public attended the Veterans Day celebrations at several area schools.

The 72 area veterans, who attended a Veterans Day program at Caddo Mills Elementary School, were moved after receiving a standing ovation as they were introduced one-by-one at the end of the assembly.

During the assembly, local serviceman and Purple Heart recipient Dustin Pearson spoke proudly of his time in the military and of the camaraderie he feels toward his fellow veterans.

“No matter what war, we all share common values,” he said. “We all have a love of God, home, and family. We have a desire to protect peace. (And) we believe in an American way of life.”

Throughout the program, which also featured the Caddo Mills High School band, each grade sang its own song led by music teacher Sherryl McCosh.

Second grade students at Lamar Elementary School in Greenville also presented a musical salute to veterans.

More than 20 veterans sat among family and friends and listened to patriotic songs including “The Pledge of Allegiance Rap,” and “What Can You Say to a Hero?”

“It was really great,” said Jerry Littlefield, a veteran who served in Europe during the Vietnam War. “The kids did a great job.”

U.S. Air Force veteran Mike McFarland and his wife, Pearl, agreed that the program was great.

“You could see a lot of pride in the kids,” Pearl McFarland said.

Herald-Banner reporter Janelle Stecklein contributed to this article.