Al Stiles, a member of the Scottish American Military Society, salutes during the Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 27, 2019.

On Monday, Dorchester County residents proudly honored the American heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Despite the 100-degree temperature, a large crowd gathered beneath the shade of a large live oak tree in Summerville Cemetery for the annual Memorial Day event.

Cindy Busby, veterans affair officer for the county, urged those in attendance to look after local veterans.

“I personally believe that there is no greater honor than to serve one’s country but no greater privilege than to serve those who did,” she said.

She encouraged residents to direct local veterans to their VA office where they can receive benefits.

“Remember the true meaning behind this day,” Busby said. “Remember the enormous debt of gratitude we owe to our veterans who gave their lives in defense of freedom and peace.”

As the nation celebrates Memorial Day, Busby said she prays that people will “pause to honor the sacrifice made by our men and women in uniform.”

B. Gen. Ernest D. Brockman, Jr. USA (Ret) said he was honored and humbled to be the guest speaker of the ceremony. He reflected on the nation’s draft history, how it changed over time, and what that meant for the country’s younger generation.

“I do worry that our young people who do not choose to join the service are missing out on an opportunity to learn respect, accountability, responsibility, and what it means to live up to one’s word and to serve one’s country,” Brockman said.

He explained that Memorial Day was originally called Declaration Day. The tradition of honoring those lost in battle began after the Civil War but later evolved to commemorate military personnel killed in all conflicts.

Brockman gave a detailed account of the wars that ensnared hundreds of thousands of American soldiers through the 20th century.

He said World War I claimed the lives of 116,516 U.S. troops and in World War II, 416,807 U.S. soldiers, sailors, marines and airman, and coast guard members gave their lives for the cause of freedom.

Brockman also spoke about how the Korean War was dubbed “The Forgotten War” and how the draft began to change during the Vietnam War, which resulted in the nation’s loss of 58,220 service members.

Brockman also cautioned that today’s society is moving farther and farther away from the true meaning of Memorial Day.

“The greatest generation is dwindling away,” Brockman said. “They are the reason that we have the freedoms that we have today. My hope is that everyone will always remember that.”

A number of local veterans organizations and other groups participated in the patriotic ceremony. They included The Scottish American Military Society, American Legion Post 21, Knights of Columbus Assembly 3697, Charleston Sub Base, Summerville Elks Lodge, T. Sgt. Walter C. Fulda Post 3433, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Summerville High School Navy J.R.O.T.C. Cadets, and Parks Funeral Home.