As one of America's most honored holidays, Veterans Day is a family affair for many Mercedians, especially those who vividly remember the years they spent protecting the country.
Veteran Lorraine Anderson, 56, of Merced is certainly no exception. She enlisted in 1981 and served in the Air Force for 10 years.
In the 20-plus years since she was honorably discharged as a "buck sergeant," two of Anderson's four children have followed in her footsteps, serving in Afghanistan.
Her son Robert Anderson, 24, is in the Marines and his twin brother, Michael Anderson, serves in the Army.
Lorraine Anderson recalled the observations she made when she joined the service, a time when the military was composed mostly of men.
"They were just starting to mix it," she said. "Women had their own floor."
The growing number of female soldiers was of great importance to Anderson at that point in her career. "Men and women have their own distinction," Anderson declared. "Women have their own uniqueness."
With all of her demanding duties as an inventory management specialist, a job she called "simple but complex," Anderson had the opportunity to watch soldiers as they were called in and out of combat.
Upon returning to California in 1991, Anderson felt relief at finally reuniting with her family.
She said the Air Force had on effect on her way of thinking. "I had a totally different perspective on life. Your understanding of the world and different cultures changes," Anderson said.
When asked what Veterans Day means to her, Anderson said she values the recognition it brings. "I have pride in my fellow countrymen."
"I hope God is able to continue to bless our country," she adds.
Although she has been struggling to find work, trouble faced by many veterans today, she doesn't regret the time she spent serving her country. "I still haven't given up," she said about finding a job.
Although she struggled for many years as a single parent in the Air Force, Anderson said she appreciates the courage her experience helped foster in her children.
"I knew that I wanted to help my children find their skills, gifts and abilities," she said.