NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — The New Britain community commemorated the 78th anniversary of the Iwo Jima flag raising on Thursday by hosting a memorial service at the city’s Iwo Jima Memorial.

Veterans were there to honor those who were lost.

“I’m not one of the heroes,” said Stew Lahey, a World War II veteran. “The heroes never came back, sadly,”

Now 96 years old, Lahey served during the battle of Iwo Jima when he was 18.

“I didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t have done,” Lahey said. “We were there to win the battle. We had to get the island for the landing strips.”

Veteran Jim Soder is concerned that young people don’t understand the sacrifice.

“The history is not being taught in school,” Soder said. “The generations of today probably don’t realize that this happened.”

The memorial in New Britain has a list of names engraved in stone of soldiers who were killed during that battle. Andrew Poleshek was the nephew of one of the soldiers.

“He was on Mount Suribachi in a fox hole with two other gentleman who were also from new haven, who were his friends,” Poleshek said. “The Japanese were lobbing down thousands and thousands of grenades and one went into the foxhole that my uncle Ben and his two friends were in. He grabbed the grenade and dove out of the fox whole with it, and obviously it blew him up.”

Poleshek remembers attending his uncles funeral when he was just 4 years old and seeing the American flag draped over the casket. When he turned 18, Poleshek himself joined the Marine Corps.

The flag raising anniversary event is organized every year by the Iwo Jima Memorial Historical Foundation.