Soak in the sun, cherish every moment with family and friends, take time to relax and unwind.

But don't forget the meaning of Memorial Day. 

The most important thing we can do today is to spend time remembering those who gave their lives to defend ours and to protect our freedoms. Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971, meant to pay tribute to those in the U.S. military who paid the ultimate price in service to their country. 

Unfortunately, it has become easier to overlook the purpose of the holiday. We're inundated with advertisements for big holiday blowout sales and we've come to know the day as the unofficial start to summer. Too often, the images of barbecues, games of catch in the back yard and fun at the beach or water park dominate the weekend. As Americans, though, we should feel a sense of obligation, a sense of patriotism, to pay homage to the 1.35 million military members who have died in service since the American Revolution. 

As a society, too often we're more moved by the loss of movie stars and musicians than we are the nameless, faceless soldiers who return in flag-draped caskets. Their courage, bravery and selflessness are far more heroic and far more consequential to our country. 

We urge you and your family to take part in some of the wonderful Memorial Day services happening across our community today. A complete list can be found at tinyurl.com/starkmemorialday 

The following are the names of military personnel from the Stark County area killed in our most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan:

• 1st Lt. Ashley White Stumpf, 24, of Marlboro Township
• U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Terry C. Wright, 21, of the Carrollton area
• U.S. Marine Sgt. Daniel J. Patron, 26, of Perry Township
• Staff Sgt. Kevin J. Kessler, 32, of Canton
• Army Sgt. Nicholas Casey, 22, of Canton
• Marine Lance Cpl. Stacy Ann Dryden, 22, of Plain Township
• Army Cpl. Zachary Grass, 22, of Sugar Creek Township
• Sgt. Cory Michael Endlich, 23, of Massillon
• Staff Sgt. Matthew Kuglics, 25, of Green
• Spc. Keith V. Nepsa, 21, of New Philadelphia
• Sgt. Jeremy D. Barnett, 27, of Mineral City
• Pvt. Heath Warner, 19 of Canton
• Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Crabtree, 31, of Green
• Spc. Jesse Buryj, 21, of Canton
• 1st Lt. Aaron N. Seesan, 24, of Massillon
• Staff Sgt. Richard P. Ramey, 27, of Perry Township
• Staff Sgt. Michael Barkey, 22, of Lawrence Township
• Spc. Kevin W. Prince, 22, of Mount Gilead (born in Canton)
• Lance Cpl. Daniel M. McVicker, 20, of Alliance
• Spc. Richard A. Hardy, 24, of Dennison (born in Bolivar, lived in Canton)

The following is a list of U.S. military personnel who have died in service to their country since Memorial Day 2016.

• Apri 27, Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Ill.; Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, 23, of Kettering, Ohio.
• April 29, 1st Lt. Weston C. Lee, 25, of Bluffton, Ga.
• May 5, Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, 38, o fFalmouth, Maine.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense