LA CROSSE, Wis. -

In celebration of Veterans Day Friday, a local event honored those who have served their country.

Freedom Honor Flight and the UW-La Crosse Athletics department held their sixth annual Veterans Day breakfast for about 600 veterans and family members on UW-La Crosse’s campus.

"It's so different now than when I came home in the ‘40s you know,” World War II veteran Edward Banasik said. “They welcomed you home, but it isn't like it was today. They really make a thing out of Veterans Day."

"So many veterans came home from service and there were no ticker tape parades or big ‘welcome-homes,’” president of Freedom Honor Flight, Pat Stephens, said. “This is a way of thanking them."

UW-L athlete volunteers and ROTC cadets are happy to serve those who have already served.

"It's the one day that's set aside a year to recognize their service and sacrifice to the nation, and especially for all of us the young athletes and cadets to come here and recognize them and talk to them and serve them breakfast,” Tim Humphries, ROTC instructor and veteran, said. “I think it really means a lot."

Veterans share stories among themselves and with members of the younger generation who were curious to know more.


"It's living history,” Humphries said. “There's no substitute for being there. You can read about it, but it comes to life in this room."

Like other holidays, it's also a day about family bonds and traditions.


"As a multigeneration veteran, my grandfather was in Vietnam, my dad and I both served in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is like family holiday,” Humphries said.

It's a holiday that brings together family by blood and also family formed by service.

"This is our day and we certainly appreciate everyone coming out to honor our service,” Humphries said.

It's "Veterans Weekend" on campus, and vets can attend Saturday's football game at UW-La Crosse for free.