Dinner honors past grand marshals
Less than a week away from the 148th Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade, the annual Past Grand Marshal Dinner Tuesday evening at the Knights of Columbus payed tribute to past parade grand marshals while getting the county ready for this year’s event on Monday.
The Past Grand Marshal Dinner has been a tradition since the mid to late 1970s.
Leon Dalton led an invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance to kick the dinner off, and after dinner, parade committee member Brent Pyles took over the microphone as the master of ceremonies.
“We have lots of past grand marshals in the room right now,” Pyles said. “This is your night. Tonight we honor you.”
Pyles continued by introducing and giving some background information on the speaker of the evening, Ironton native Sgt. James Hopper, of the United States Marine Corps, who said he was honored and humbled to speak in his hometown, and talked about his experience in the Marines and his four deployments.
“During my combat deployments, I’ve lost a lot of friends. Forty-six marines I’ve lost on my four combat deployments,” he said. “Memorial Day means something different to me. But I don’t just remember them on Memorial Day. I remember them every day.”
Also speaking or being acknowledged were this year’s parade commander, Herb Brown, this year’s honorary grand marshal and World War II vet Paul Salyer, and the 2016 grand marshal, Cpl. Julia Jones.
“We try to get as many past grand marshals to come out to the dinner as possible,” Brown said. “It’s nice to see all the past grand marshals together.”
After each spoke, Hopper, Brown and Salyer were presented with plaques by Pyles.
Charlie Cook presented Jones with the honorary personalized cane given to each grand marshal every year before other awards were given. Jones presented flags from last year’s parade to her sisters, Laura Brown and Sally Markel-Inglis, as well as Sheriff Jeff Lawless. World War II veteran Earl Smith won the William Joe Williams Award.