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Jefferson Parish honors veterans and their service

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Jefferson Parish paid special tribute to veterans Thursday for their sacrifice and service to the country, and it was especially emotional for one Metairie family. 

Dozens gathered at the Veterans Memorial Square to celebrate servicemen and women.

"Today, and it should be every day, we honor those men and women who day in and day out give of themselves in service, sometimes in death, all in the preservation of our democracy," Buddy Boe with Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser's Office said.

U.S. Navy Lt. Patrick Lawrence Ruth of Metairie was one of those honored. He died Oct. 1 during a military training exercise.

"Patrick's high school coach described him as a tremendously driven, young athlete. He said Patrick brought his A game every day and was a leader," Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni said.

His family and the rest of the crowd became emotional as they remembered Patrick.

"I know this is a difficult time for his family, and we want to honor this young man who exemplifies what a true hero is," Yenni said.

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser's Office delivered a special presentation to the family.

"Twelve days or so days ago, Lieutenant Ruth was supposed to marry the love of his life. While he might not have been able to be there physically, I'm sure Jessica felt his presence at the exact moment that night Patrick would have said I do," Boe said.

A wreath was laid in Patrick's memory. Veterans were then asked to stand during their service hymns.

"Even though we're all Americans, when you serve in a certain sector of the American military, and yours is being played and they ask you to stand, you stand with a lot of pride," U.S. Air Force Vietnam veteran Gene Franques said.

For some, coming out to the ceremony is a tradition.

"I come out because I'm a patriot, and I believe in patriotism and I believe in freedom, and I believe that everybody should believe in that." Korean War veteran William F. Gillen Jr. said.

It's also deeply personal.

"I had two friends that died in Vietnam. That means a great deal to me. My son died on active duty while he was in the army five years ago last month," U.S. Army Vietnam War Veteran Bill Friedman said. 

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