James said Russ passed away on Oct. 16, 2008, from non-small cell lung carcinoma, a disease resulting from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Since his passing, James said she has been volunteering once a week at the Disabled American Veterans center to honor him.
James said she believes Memorial Day is important for all Americans.
"We have to always remember what these people gave and some people gave it all years ago, like many of these Vietnam veterans," James said. "Now 40 years later, these young men are doing the same."
James' thoughts were echoed by other families remembering their loved ones.
Darlene Hurt, a 57-year-old resident of Danville, who's husband, William Ray Hurt, died from multiple myeloma cancer, another disease associated with chemical warfare tools from the Vietnam Conflict, visited her husband's grave with her children, Bill Hurt Jr. and Tawana Cox.
"Altogether he was in the service 24 years," Hurt said. "He loved his country and flew the flag proudly at our home. He was Army through and through. He loved his country, loved his family and loved his unit."
Hurt said she and her family come to the Camp Nelson services almost every year and stop by her husband's grave almost every Sunday. "We bring three roses, his favorite flower," Hurt said. "We bring one for me and each one of the children."
Members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, West Jessamine High School band, Camp Nelson Honor Guard, Jessamine County officials, Kentucky National Cemetery Complex, and Kentucky National Guard participated in the hour-long ceremony through song and speech.
Guest speaker, retired Kentucky State Police Col. Jerry Lovitt, a recipient of the Legion of Merit, the fourth-highest military honor in the United States, asked the audience to help their fellow citizens remember the importance of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Your presence here today is testimony that you haven't forgotten, but others in our society may have let it slip in its priority - the wild enthusiasm is now gone and for many Americans, its been replaced with a frustration (with the economy)," Lovitt said. "Make sure you go and get your magnetic bumper sticker, put it back on your car and remind your fellow citizens ... you show these young veterans how much we appreciate them."
The ceremony concluded with prayer, rifle and cannon salutes, the playing of Taps, a congregational singing of "America the Beautiful," and a sudden rainstorm.