Leonard Holiday tried to keep a straight face like any good soldier during a ceremony.
He served in the United States Army more than 60 years ago, but an award would force him to break character and crack a smile.
A quilt was wrapped around his shoulders, and he pressed it to his chest. "Thank you," he said as he looked down at the layers of red, white and blue fabric.
Holiday was the first of 11 veterans to be honored Sunday at Wynwood House in Boalsburg with Quilts of Valor. The quilts were made by Happy Valley Quilts of Valor, which co-organizers Carolyn and Steve Foust launched in 2015. There have been 125 veterans in State College and surrounding communities who have been awarded a quilt for their service.
Rita Young nominated her father, Ralph Savarese, for the Quilts of Valor award and had other veterans at the personal care community recommended, too. Young said it took several months to make the quilt for her father.
Savarese, who celebrated his 94th birthday Sunday, was 17 years old when he volunteered to follow in his brothers' footsteps.
"I think this is a great honor," said Savarese, who served in the Navy during World War II. "I had four brothers in the Army, one in the fourth wave at Normandy, one in the Pacific and two in North Africa and Europe, and we all came home safe."
Lloyd Grove served in the Army during the final year of World War II.
He reflected on his experiences while being surrounded by four generations of his family and said he didn't care too much for the marching
"This was fun," Grove said. "I learned we were doing this a couple weeks ago when we got the papers. I've been looking forward to this."
John William Hayes