By Natasha Brown

MOORESTOWN, N.J. (CBS) — Local veterans were honored during a special ceremony in Moorestown on Friday that celebrated vets of all ages and ranks. It is New Jersey’s highest military honor and for many who received the Distinguished Service Medal on Friday, it was long overdue.

Twenty-four New Jersey veterans were honored at Moorestown Mall for their military service over the years — from Vietnam to Operation Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom to one very special honoree who served in World War II.

“I’m honored to be here today and to pin on the medals that really is long overdue,” Brigadier Gen. Patrick Kennedy said.

Beverly Grant served in Operation Freedom and retired from the military after 24 years of service. She’s one of many to receive the New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal, the state’s highest military honor.

“The military has been very good to us and sometimes people tend to forget what it means to serve and why they’re serving, so I’m proud to be here today to be a part of that and for veterans to be recognized from all branches of service,” Grant said.

One by one as their name, rank and military service was read aloud, the proud veterans — flanked by family and friends — received their medals for their selfless acts in combat and their sacrifice. It’s an honor they never asked for in their humble service to the United States.

“None of them served — the men and women we’re honoring today — for honors like this. They served because of their call of duty, for their patriotism, for their support of their neighbors so many of whom they never know and never met,” state Sen. Troy Singleton said.

In order to be eligible for the Distinguished Service Medal, you have to be a resident of New Jersey, have been honorably discharged and have proof of having served in combat while on active duty during wartime.