A married couple, a former war photographer and the first woman to campaign for mayor of Stamford were among a crowd of more than 100 World War II veterans honored by Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz at New Canaan High School last Thursday morning.

A three-hour program brought together New Canaan and Stamford veterans to share memories of service, local politicians to offer words of gratitude and the sounds of student musicians for the State of Connecticut's WWII Veteran Public Service Awards.

Bysiewicz, accompanied by New Canaan First Selectman Jeb Walker and Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia, individually awarded a certificate and a photo opportunity at the front of the high school auditorium to every veteran in attendance.

Stamford resident and WWII veteran Mario Decarlo, 85, said Memorial Day is simply a reminder that he is "lucky to be here."

"We don't consider ourselves heros -- we consider our buddies that we left behind heros," he said.

Bysiewicz, who said her father, 88, is a veteran of the Army Air Force, noted that many veterans, like Decarlo and her father, exemplify humility.

"[Veterans] are incredibly modest people," she said. "If you ask them if they think they did something special, probably they would say that they certainly did not. But they certainly are heros."

She added, "Eleven million people were killed in the Nazi concentration camps and thousands, if not millions, more would have been killed had it not been for the very brave men and women in this auditorium today."

Pavia joined Bysiewicz in commending veterans for their great courage.

"As I look out at all of you today, I see a toughness, a rigor and yet a very warm and loving feeling," said Pavia during a brief speech at the podium. "And that goes with what you did for us and what you did for your country and we could never than you enough."

Walker said that he is particularly humble before WWII veterans because he grew up during the war and witnessed first-hand their valor.

He said to the crowd, "I will be eternally, eternally grateful as someone who grew up in that war for the efforts that you put in, the sacrifices you made and the success you achieved."