As the observance of Memorial Day approaches on Monday, one source puts the number of American servicemen and servicewomen killed in all of this nation’s wars and conflicts at 1,354,664 as of this week.

Sure, it’s the unofficial start of summer, but amid the cookouts and the TV advertisements for mattress sales, those of us fortunate enough to have the day off Monday should take some time to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday.

There are several events commemorating Memorial Day and our fallen heroes on Monday and a traditional observance on Thursday, May 30, at the Eastern Shore Veterans Cemetery.

Services include:

• Memorial Day salute, 8 a.m. Monday, May 27, Wesley Chapel Church, state Route 20 in Rock Hall, honors Pvt. Bernard Franklin Elburn of Piney Neck in Kent County, who was a casualty of the North African campaigns of World War II.

Elburn, who had been a waterman before enlisting in the U.S. Army, had recently turned 23 when he was killed in March 1943 near Tunisia. Larry Crouch, American Legion Kent County commander, will be the speaker.

• Memorial Day parade, 10 a.m. Monday, May 27, down High Street in Chestertown. The parade will kick off in the area of Dixon Valve and Coupling. Veterans, Scouts, American Legion members, fire trucks and antique vehicles, members of law enforcement and the Kent County Community Marching Band are all expected to join the parade.

Rock Hall area resident Ted Cumings, a Green Beret who served 25 years in the Army, will deliver the keynote address at the end of the parade.

• Memorial Day service, 10:45 a.m. Monday, May 27, at the Oxford Town Park. Sponsored by the Oxford Garden Club.

The program will include the presentation of colors by the U.S. Coast Guard from the Oxford Coast Guard Station, patriotic music by the Mid-Shore Community Band and a laying of the wreath ceremony by club president Dorothy Williams and Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland District I Director Doris Key.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jeff Unsworth will be the keynote speaker.

• Memorial Day service, 11 a.m. Monday, May 27, at Long Wharf Park in Cambridge. Sponsored by Dorchester American Legion Post 91.

At the Cambridge service, memorial wreaths are placed at Long Wharf Park in front of the World War I Memorial Fountain.

• Memorial Day service, 1:30 p.m., Thursday, May 30, Eastern Shore Veterans Cemetery at Beulah near Hurlock.

The Memorial Day Service honors U.S. military veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who have passed away. It features songs played by the Easton Middle School band, remarks from local and state officials, the laying of wreaths and a rifle volley salute by the sheriff’s offices in Dorchester and Caroline counties.

Included in today’s specially priced edition of The Star Democrat is a 52-page special section packed with stories in honor of Memorial Day. Here are some of the stories you will read:

• The vital role played by Marylanders, especially Eastern Shoremen, in saving the American Revolution.

• A pilot who flew 51 missions over Italy and other Talbot County heroes of World War II.

• Kent County’s heroes of the Vietnam War.

• Caroline County brothers who served the nation.

• A Talbot County man’s service in the Korean War.

The names and faces featured in this special Memorial Day section represent just some of the men and women from the Mid-Shore and across Maryland who, throughout our nation’s various military conflicts, gave their lives for their country and the freedoms we enjoy today.

So, as we enter into this three-day weekend famous for its cookouts, swimming pool openings and family gatherings, we once again ask you to reflect on the true reason behind the holiday, and — if you would please take some time — to read the stories about and pay respect to some of our region’s bravest service members who never made it home.

All those of any era who serve in this nation’s military accept the risk that their lives may be cut short during their time in uniform. They honor their comrades who have fallen. They remember the human cost of war. So should we all.

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