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Six soldiers' sacrifice to be honored today

LAWRENCEVILLE - A new husband. A new father. A Gulf War veteran. A member of the Honor Guard. A homecoming king. A brother.

Those are the men who left Gwinnett County to fight a war and came home to be buried.

Their names were etched in stone earlier this week, and at 1 p.m. today they'll be honored at the Gwinnett Fallen Heroes Memorial.

Only a few years after building the memorial for Gwinnettians lost during every American battle since the Revolutionary War, officials had to come together again to add names of those who died fighting for freedom.

Sgt. Michael James Stockely, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Houghton Warren, Sgt. 1st Class Lonnie James Parson, Cpl. William A. Long and Sgt. Paul Anthony Saylor died this summer during various incidents in Iraq. Marine Pfc. Brian Marshall Smith died during a training accident at Camp LeJeune, N.C.

Patti Saylor said she believes having her son's name etched the Gwinnett Fallen Heroes Memorial is an honor.

"But you'll never be able to know a person by the name. They'll never know how this person was loved," she said.

Today's ceremony will include a wreath-laying, a 21-gun salute, the retiring of the colors and the playing of taps.

"It will be a distinct privilege to honor the veterans who have served our country so nobly and to pay tribute to the six young men who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom," Gwinnett Chairman Charles Bannister said.