HONOLULU (KHNL)- Thousands of military men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice in the Middle East.
Hawaii lawmakers recognized those with local ties who were killed over the past year.
The State Legislature presented the Hawaii Medal of Honor to the family members of those killed in action. It recognizes the heroism of Hawaii's armed forces.
One by one, the name of each recipient was called. Their loved ones accepted the medal of honor. For Richard Perez, it was an emotional moment.
"He loved Hawaii, and that's why this means so much to me," said Perez.
He accepted the medal for his 19-year-old son, Richard Jr.
"His accident was Feb. 10, 2005. I have not gone five minutes without thinking about him," he said.
More than 40 families from across the islands and the Mainland gathered at the State Capitol. They expressed deep gratitude.
"It was hard but it was an honor," said Melissa Scholl, whose husband died a month after his daughter was born. "How sad it is that she won't get to meet him."
Lawmakers say the medal is given on behalf of the people of Hawaii. It reminds the families they'll always be a part of the Aloha State.
"We were very honored to have the opportunity to come back here. It is a great honor that the state is bestowing upon us and upon our daughter," said Mike McClung.
His daughter, Megan, was the highest ranking female marine killed in combat.
Family members say their loved ones led good lives, that were cut much too short.
"I think what it's taught us mostly is to live everyday to the fullest, every minute, don't waste time," said McClung.
This year, the state recognized 67 men and women.