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Memorial Day means many things to many people

Memorial Day is many things to many people: It is a solemn occasion to honor America's war dead and the first warm-weather holiday of the year.

It is a time for family gatherings and for many, a day off work.

It is an opportunity to explore a myriad of festivals.

For Lawrence Countians, it is the one time of the year when their patriotism and their community are on display for all to see as the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade winds its way through the streets of Ironton.

As they enjoyed mostly pleasant weather on Saturday, some local residents paused to think about what Memorial Day means to them and how best to spend it.

For Regina Clay, of Ironton, Memorial Day is a time to remember the veterans who have served our country in the past, and those men and women in uniform who are serving today.

Clay has a son in the Navy; three of her husband Jim Clay's sons are sailors also.

"I don't think people today realize, I just don't think they honor veterans like they used to, like they ought to. The parade really does that," she said.

Jim and Regina Clay will take part in the Memorial Day 5K run before watching the parade. They will also visit the graves of loved ones at various cemeteries and get together with family.

Like many Lawrence Countians, Toni and Billy Spurlock, of Ironton, have found that Memorial Day is an opportunity for a family reunion.

Billy Spurlock said his family members who live away usually make it home this one weekend of the year.

"They come in every year," he said.

The out-of-towners and the family members who still live locally will gather at his parent's house for a cookout.

Kristie Rudmann, of Huntington, W.Va., said she will think of a brother and a cousin who are both in the military this Memorial Day weekend.

Her brother, Darren Kinman, is in the National Guard; her cousin Timothy Miller is a Marine stationed in Iraq.

"This is a time to think about those who have fought for our country, those who have died for it," she said.

Memorial Day weekend is a busy weekend for Rudmann and many others like her. A teacher at St. Lawrence Elementary, she has spent the last three years lending a hand at the annual St. Joseph Charity Fair. Dozens of volunteers will make sure festival goers have plenty of activities during the holiday weekend.

For Nancy Tomondi, of Ironton,

Memorial Day will be a work day. A home health aide, she will put in some time at work before joining her family later for a get-together.

"We'll probably cook out," she said. "Normally we go to the parade."

Anthony Forrest, of Ironton, said his family will gather for a cookout on Memorial Day.

"I like seeing friends I haven't seen in a while, family and friends coming together. I like the cookouts, myself," he said.

Maurice Grant, originally from Emporia, Va., is finding out what Memorial Day in Lawrence County is all about. He moved here eight months ago.

"I came for the work, and it looks like love is going to keep me here," he said, glancing at Jolynda Lewis, of Ironton, as they sat together Saturday at the Operation: Kids Memorial Day Weekend Basketball Tournament.

Lewis said she has tried to explain to Grant just how big a deal Memorial Day - and the parade - is to Irontonians.

"It's the longest running Memorial Day parade in the nation," she said. "The shriners are in it. Everyone's in it. I have missed the parade only one time in my whole life."

Lawrence County's most visible salute to Memorial Day, the 137th annual

Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade is scheduled to roll through Ironton at 10 a.m. Monday.