Gravestone unveiled 13 years after SWFL Army veteran died

One decorated Army veteran was buried without a grave marker for 13 years until Thursday as some Southwest Florida veterans came together to honor one of their own who gave so much to his friends and our country.

Honoring a hero over a decade after Army veteran, Martin Ponansky, died. Don Payton, a Hearts & Homes for Veterans founder, made sure his fellow Vietnam veteran received the marked site he deserved on Thursday at the Coral Ridge Cemetary.

“It’s important that we make sure that all the veterans deserve such an honor and dignity,” said Payton, about the Bronze Star of Valor recipient. “Being a fellow Vietnam veteran, I figured I should do everything I could to make sure he had that honor.”

Gravestone of Martin Ponansky unveiled at ceremony Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. (Credit: WINK News)
Gravestone of Martin Ponansky unveiled at the ceremony Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. (Credit: WINK News)

A special ‘mitzvah’ ceremony was followed by the Rabbi, unveiling Ponansky’s new gravestone. It has a black background with yellow type showing his name, the branch of the military Ponansky served and recognition at the bottom of the gravestone of the Bronze Star Medal the Army veteran earned.

Bert Seidman told WINK News that the ceremony shows that you do not forget. “The highest honor is a mitzvah, which means good deed,” he said. “I’m just grateful that he finally has a mark to tell the world what he did and who he was because he deserved it and much more.”

Now, guests like his best friend, Seidman, can let the world know they were here by leaving a rock on the site. Leaving a stone along the gravestone is among the traditions to remember one man’s life while honoring his sacrifice. “That shows that somebody was there,” Seidman said. “It shows that you don’t forget. He’ll never be forgotten as long as I’m alive.”

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