RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Before the sun was up Friday morning, runners at NC State hit the pavement.
"Freedom is not free, and we take a lot of things for granted in life," said NC State baseball coach Elliot Avent.
The team joined other members of the Wolfpack community for the annual Veterans Day Run and Ceremony at the Belltower.
"It is a privilege to stand among you, the families, friends, and our fellow citizens who understand the sacrifices made to ensure our freedom. As we pause to reflect on the courage and commitment and patriotism of our veterans, let us also remember those who are currently serving in various parts of the world protecting the values we hold dear," said Nick Drake, Director of Military and Veteran Services at NC State.
The NC State Memorial Belltower was initially created to honor alums who died in World War I, with construction beginning in 1921. Work was paused at several points, including during World War II prior to its formal dedication in 1949. It features the names of 34 alums who died, as well as one who was mistakenly reported as passing away; in response, the university altered the name, having it recognize all unknown soldiers.
Over at St. Timothy's School in Raleigh, about 30 veterans took part in a ceremony where they were honored by students.
"It's important that our students learn how to be good citizens and to appreciate what a blessing it is to be a citizen in the United States and know who to thank for that," said Tim Tinnesz, the Head of School who started the program when he started a dozen years ago.
Kindergartners performed two songs for the veterans, who sat in the first three rows of the packed gymnasium. As they walked in, they were greeted with chants of "U-S-A," and each veteran shared their years and branch of service with the crowds.
"I think it's really important especially nowadays. I'm not sure the armed forces are getting as much attention as they used to, and I think it's important that we show that you can serve in the armed forces, have a career either in the Air Force or other branch of service, and still have a career afterwards," said Dr. Benjamin Koren, an Air Force veteran.
All veterans had children, grandchildren, or other family members who attended the school; two educators are veterans and were also recognized.
"It's just great to see after all these years, the service that you've done and all the hard work, to see people appreciate (it)," Koren explained.