NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In Brooklyn, a special ceremony honored a trailblazing Navy veteran of World War II.

She’s a pioneer for women and African Americans, and she just celebrated her 100th birthday.

“Amazing Grace” and a whole lot of gratitude poured over Cadman Plaza in Wednesday’s ceremony honoring our veterans. One in particular was honored — World War II veteran Katherine Horton.

Last year, Horton was inducted into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame.

Katherine Horton, a 100-year-old World War II veteran, sits between her daughters at a Veterans Day ceremony in Brooklyn on Nov. 11, 2020. (Credit: CBS2)

While Horton sat hand-in-hand with her daughters, CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock learned more. Sandra Emanuel describes her mom as kind, happy and funny. She says Horton turned 100 in October and, boy, has she done a lot in her century.

“She did more than I’m doing,” Emanuel said.

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Horton enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 4, 1944, and became a Navy WAVE — Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.

She was the first of three African-American women to study at Bethesda Medical Center and worked a long career as a physical therapy assistant at the VA Medical Center in Brooklyn.

“Her favorite time was when she worked for the VA,” Emanuel said. “She really enjoyed the career of helping people.”

Officials from near and far showed up at the Brooklyn War Memorial to sing her praises.

“A personal thank you to Katherine Horton for paving the way so that I can serve, so that so many people of color can serve,” said Kristen L. Rouse, with the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs.

Rouse served in the Army and now serves at the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs.

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Other WWII veterans graced the crowd with their presence, including 93-year-old Jack Vanasco, who served in the Army with the Tank Corp. Four of his five brothers served.

“How did your mother do?” Murdock asked.

“She took it pretty hard but knew it was the right thing for us to do,” Vanasco said.

Norman Wasserman, a World War II veteran (Photo provided)

Ninety-six-year-old Norman Wasserman was born, raised and lives in Brooklyn.

“I’m very happy here. I’m very happy to be alive,” he said.

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Wasserman says he served in the Battle of the Bulge and received the French Legion of Honor. He added he wore his “World War II Veteran” hat for Wednesday’s special occasion. Murdock asked why he doesn’t wear it more often.

“Like most World War II veterans, we’re quiet people. We don’t talk much about the service,” Wasserman said.

On this day and always, CBS2 salutes our veterans and sends a huge thank you to all who serve and served.

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