Last June, when Army Cpl. Matthew Hanes was shot while on patrol in Afghanistan, he was left mostly paralyzed from the chest down.
The 22-year-old sat under the honoree tent with other veterans at Prospect Hill Cemetery in North York on Sunday afternoon. His is one of 19 names added to the Court of Valor, a monument topped with a 3,000-pound steel beam from the World Trade Center. Each veteran was honored for his distinct valor or sacrifice.
"It's nice to be in the company of everyone else," said Hanes, of East Manchester Township.
The ceremony was a solemn remembrance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and being honored in conjunction with that day feels good, he said.
"That's the reason we all went over there," Hanes said.
Even seated, Hanes has the presence of a soldier. He speaks humbly, making strong eye contact and extending his hand to accept a handshake as best he can.
Several people came up to him after the ceremony to thank him for his service, and he said it's not that uncommon to receive the gesture from strangers.
"I get it every once in a while," Hanes said.
Remember: The ceremony began with a musical prelude by the Kiltie Band of York and the Central York Middle School Fife and Drum Corps.
After sirens sounded and prayers were said, Col. Scott Perry, an Iraq War veteran and state representative, presented a speech in his National Guard uniform.
He said we should all do our best to remember exactly what we were doing on Sept. 11, 2001, when the planes hit the towers.
"It's also important to remember how that made you feel," Perry said.
After all, a nation is revealed by whom it honors, he said.
After his speech, he was part of a flag-folding and presentation to Michelle Miller, the widow of Loganville Volunteer Fire Chief Rodney Miller, who was struck by a car and killed while directing traffic on Saturday, April 27.
Freedom isn't free: The Eyes of Freedom Traveling Memorial made it to the ceremony from Ohio. The exhibit shows the 23 fallen soldiers of Lima Company 3/25, one of the hardest hit units in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The life-size paintings, complete with real pairs of the men's boots, underscored another theme of the afternoon: honoring the fallen.
Rep. Kevin Schreiber read the names of the veterans who have died and been buried in Prospect Hill or Greenmount cemeteries since the last ceremony. More than 70 names were called.
And J.T. Hand led the Missing Comrades Roll Call, asking all vets to rise who were able to stand. As he progressed down a list of vets in attendance, fallen vets Cameron Stambaugh and Brandon Pepper were silent.
Army Pfc. Stambaugh, 20, of Spring Grove was killed on July 8, 2012; Army Staff Sgt. Pepper, 31, of York on July 21, 2012. Both were on their first deployments to Afghanistan.
"The community of York, Pa., will never forget your sacrifice," Hand said.
-Reach Mollie Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.