Americans honored their military veterans Saturday with a parade in the wintry cold of New York City, where one World War II vet thanked onlookers for remembering, and in a somber ceremony in a Texas community bloodied by a church massacre where almost half of those killed had ties to the Air Force.

In parks, war memorials and on streets across the United States, politicians and citizens gathered to honor those who have served in the military.

In Sutherland Springs, Texas, a Veterans Day ceremony outside a community center was grim as about 100 people gathered under cloudy skies, honoring the more than two dozen people killed a block away at a church last Sunday.

An Air Force official has said that 12 of the massacre victims had direct connections to the Air Force, “either members or with family ties.”

Wilson County Judge Richard Jackson’s voice broke as he thanked the first responders and others who rushed to the First Baptist Church, saying the scene will affect them for the rest of their lives.

Jackson, the county administrator, said he hopes Saturday’s ceremony will help “put this horrific tragedy behind us and look to the future.”

After the ceremony, members of a fire and rescue squad stood in a circle, put their arms over each other’s’ shoulders, and prayed. A wreath was placed near flags to remember those killed.

In New York City, which hosts the largest Veterans Day parade in the country, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin served as grand marshal, joining Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Air Force’s highest-ranking woman at Saturday’s parade.

“It’s beautiful, so many people,” said Aldrin, who rode in a convertible and waved to the crowds gathered on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Aldrin, 87, served in the Air Force and was the second man on the moon, piloting the Apollo 11 and following Neil Armstrong onto the lunar surface in 1969.

Air Force Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski also attended, along with hundreds of other veterans who marched in the cold. One of the World War II veterans who rode in a float held a sign that read “Thank you for remembering.” Others held U.S. flags or black-and-white photos of their loved ones, and dressed in historic uniforms.