FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The state’s oldest American Legion post, located in Florence County, marked Independence Day with festivities that included a barbecue, live music and Quilts of Valor presentations.

American Legion Post One Commander Johnny Guest said about 150 veterans and family members showed up to Monday’s event. He said in addition to celebrating freedom, the organization wanted to celebrate the soldiers who fought for it.

Among the festivities was a more solemn scene — an empty table, set in honor of prisoners of war and soldiers who went missing in action.

“We do not forget about prisoners of war,” Guest said. “We do not forget about those who are missing in action. Maybe you noticed as you came in, we are proud to fly alongside the American flag, a POW/MIA flag.”

The ceremony included a reading of the war poem “In Flanders Field” in honor of those who lost their lives.

The Swamp Fox Quilters chapter of Quilts of Valor was also in attendance. The group presented about two dozen veterans with their own Quilts of Valor, and were given certificates of appreciation in return.

“Nobody has a dry eye. It’s a very moving ceremony,” Timi Bronson, the group’s co-leader said. “Some of these guys were Vietnam vets and they were not treated right when they came home. It’s a privilege to be able to do a civilian honor for them.”

Guest said some veterans feel their service was forgotten and the symbol of thanks can mean a lot. Between the parties and fireworks, he urged those celebrating Independence Day to take time to reflect.

“I think it’s an opportunity to take a step back and think that there are a lot of blessings in our lives that we take for granted,” he said.

Guest said American Legion Post One’s membership has seen an increase over the last year and a half. He plans to hold a workshop Sept. 10 to help veterans take full advantage of the benefits they are entitled to.