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DAV honors nation#039;s fallen

An annual remembrance ceremony was the first of many observances this weekend to honor sacrifice, courage and those who have given their lives for their country.

Members of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 51 Wednesday placed a wreath at a memorial to the area's soldiers at the Lawrence County Courthouse during their annual remembrance ceremony.

The theme for this year's ceremony was "One red rose for a fallen comrade."

DAV Commander Stephen Saunders said the red rose was in many ways symbolic of the soldier who goes away to war.

"The petals of the rose show how delicate life is, the tip, shows unity between the different military branches; the thorns depict the pain and grief all of us feel. For the veteran, every day is Memorial Day," he said.

For Beverly Payton, of Ironton, pain and grief became all too real five years ago when her brother, Vietnam veteran Bobby Payton took his own life after suffering years of

combat-related post traumatic stress disorder.

Payton said it was hard to explain how she felt as she watched the DAV observance, but was emphatic when asked to describe her brother.

"He was a hero," she said simply.

Brenda Kelley, of Ironton, attended the observance with her husband who is a member of the DAV. She lamented afterward that the turnout for the event was sparse.

"There is really not enough participation for things like this," she said. "This is to honor veterans and so few people take the time. This took 10 minutes. I took the afternoon off to come because I knew no one else would be here (to show their support). They shouldn't be forgotten."