It was where he traveled to visit family and share time with his many friends.
That special stretch of Highway between the Prentiss-Tishomingo county line and Hobo Station was dedicated Friday to the memory of the Prentiss native who grew up to become a U.S. Marine and who died while serving his country.
A large crowd of friends, family, students, and local and state dignitaries filled the New Site High School gymnasium on what would have been his 39th birthday to remember Lambert and honor his sacrifice with the official unveiling of the sign for the Sgt. Jonathan W. Lambert USMC Memorial Highway.
“It's commitment and sacrifice like that of Sgt. Jonathan Lambert that makes our community possible,” said Mississippi Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert, himself a Marine.
Lambert died June 1, 2003, from injuries he received in a vehicle accident while serving with the 1st Marine Division in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Lambert's mother, Becky Lambert, said she could think of no more appropriate way to spend her only son's birthday than by honoring his memory. She said the idea of naming the section of road for him had been around for some time but last year she felt a push to see it happen when the Marine's daughter, Kinsey Jade Lambert, asked her why there wasn't a road honoring her father. Becky Lambert said she's extremely grateful for all those who played a role in getting the legislation passed to dedicate the highway and for everyone who came out Friday to remember her son.
“Today is just more than we can comprehend. I am humbled by the support and love shown to our family,” she said.
She encouraged the students present to remember the sacrifice made by all those who serve in the military and to be sure to show honor to all veterans.
“Respect is everything,” she said.
Prentiss County Chancery Clerk Bubba Pounds said these types of memorials serve as a reminder of those who sacrifice for freedom.
“America was an idea of the founding fathers and Sgt. Lambert paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we could continue to build on those ideals,” said Pounds.
State Representative Tracy Arnold said sacrifice is a theme that runs throughout the Bible and the story of God and Christ. He said God set the ultimate example of willingness to sacrifice and described Lambert as “a man after God's own heart. A man who was willing to sacrifice.”
State Senator J.P. Wilemon, who introduced the bill authorizing the naming of the highway, said the designation is a small way the community and the state can say thank you to those who give all.
“Nothing we can do can express our true appreciation of Sgt. Lambert or any of the men and women of our armed services that have given the ultimate sacrifice.”
Lambert's first cousin Trent Brown, who now services as a superior court judge in Georgia, recalled a close friendship with his cousin and spending summers visiting the family in Mississippi where they would spend time together. He said his cousin came to visit him in Georgia shortly after completing boot camp and he felt like he was seeing a new man who understood his responsibilities and his commitment.
“He was the very embodiment of the proud Marine,” said Brown.
He said Lambert will always be his hero.
“Jonathan was a hero to me and to our nation. Jonathan has done his duty,” he said.
Friday's ceremony also included a presentation of the national colors by the Marine Corps League of Corinth and an honor guard from the Patriot Guard Riders organization. Several New Site High School Students also participated with musical performances and readings including Ariel Nichols, Megan Lambert, Camrie Mayo and Aaron Lee.