STELLA — The community of Stella came together to give thanks to veterans Saturday morning, at their sixth annual Stellabration event.

While Stellabration included a day of activities, including an afternoon parade, the focus of the event was highlighted in the morning's veterans program.

Bill Beckett, the event's main organizer, said the town holds the celebration to let veterans know their service is appreciated.

"We want them to know that we love them," Beckett said. "We try to honor two different veterans every year."

Two local veterans were honored Saturday morning, receiving resolutions from the Missouri House of Representatives and quilts from the Stella Quilt Guild.

Glenn Isaac Fretz, of Neosho, a veteran of Desert Storm, was recognized first, as Rep. Charlie Davis, chair of the House veterans committee, read aloud from the resolution being presented to Fretz.

"Glenn Isaac Fretz is a true hero in every sense of the word, using his recovery from a catastrophic injury to help teach and be of service to others," Davis said.

Rep. Bill Lant also joined in presenting the veterans with the House resolutions.

Davis pointed to Fretz's participation in the National Veterans' Wheelchair Games, his 4,200 mile hand-cycle ride across the country as part of the Long Road Home Project and his many volunteering ventures, including coaching seventh and eighth grade basketball for the Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association.

Fretz, whose injuries left his legs and lower body paralyzed, has not let the obstacles stand in his way.

"I turned 21 in the hospital in Kuwait when I was injured and I made a promise then to pay it forward and try to make a difference," Fretz said. "And every day since then, I've tried to let God guide me, let my actions speak for me."

He said he also keeps in mind his family and those supporting him.

"This community has allowed me to compete on a national level," Fretz said. "Every day I try to pay it forward. I know how blessed I am."

The state representatives also recognized Jim Maness, a World War II veteran.

"Be it resolved that we, the members of the Missouri House of Representatives, 96th General Assembly join to extend our most sincere and heartfelt gratitude to Jim Maness for his courage in serving this great nation," Davis said.

Beckett, a veteran of the Vietnam War, said events such as Saturday's are intended to give veterans the thank you that he and many of his fellow military members did not receive when they returned home from Vietnam.

"I'm a Vietnam veteran myself and when I came home I was spit on and was disgraced in front of my mother," Beckett said. "I hate to see other veterans who don't receive some kind of recognition or honor, honor that they well deserve for doing what their country asked them to do."

Mark Taylor, of KNEO radio, served as the keynote speaker Saturday, and read aloud letters from service members and their families and shared stories of faith during war.

Taylor also reminded the crowd of a message included in the military code of conduct.

"Article 6 of the United States military code of conduct says, 'I will never forget that I am an American fighting for freedom, responsibility of my actions and dedication to the principles which make my country free,'" Taylor read. "'I will trust in my God and the United States of America.'"

The program also featured the Neosho Air Force Junior ROTC, who recognized prisoners of war and those missing in action with the POW/MIA salute, Donna England, who performed the National Anthem, as well as a special performance of Taps.

The event also drew the Patriot Guard and Brothers with a Cause.

The veterans program wrapped up with a choral performance from Triway Elementary students.

Beckett said he looks forward to holding the event again next year and has already started coordinating for the seventh annual Stellabration event.

"I plan on doing it next year," Beckett said. "I've already talked to another group, Roaring River Sound, to see if they can come and play for me."