That was the prevailing theme during Memorial Day ceremonies in Croton and Johnstown on Monday.

At Green Hill Cemetery, Pastor Mike Rector detailed the number of Americans who sacrificed their lives for freedom, while World War II veteran Don Jakeway put a name to just one of those fallen soldiers.

According to a Veterans of Foreign War Web Site, Rector said the cost of freedom in World War I, 116,708 casualties; World War II, 408,306; Korean War, 54,246; Vietnam, 58,219; Desert Storm, 393; and Iraq, 4,080.

"It has been costly," he said. "People paid the price so we can stand here today."

Jakeway, of Johnstown American Legion Post 254, remembered a close friend who was wounded in World War II.

"As I knelt over him, he said, 'sergeant, I know I won't make it.'" Jakeway said. "He asked, 'please remember me.' My friend, Harold Hughes.

"To those who gave their all for their country and to those who make it possible to gather today and to say things that would be impossible to say in other countries, it means so much (to remember)," Jakeway said.

He noted that there's no better group of local men than those from Post 254, from which the Honor Guard provided a rifle salute at both the Johnstown and Croton ceremonies.

U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph Gose, who has served for 12 years, said, "Thank you for the Christmas packages and cards. That carries a soldier one day forward."

Having served several tours in Iraq, Gose said there's a memorial there where names are added as lives are lost.

"We remember what they accomplished," he said. "We're fighting for children over there -- for what children have here. I would go back, because the job isn't done. Children aren't equal. Young boys have more opportunities than girls."

Gose acknowledged "the one soldier who beats us all out," he said. "The one who sacrificed for every one. That's the Lord, Jesus Christ. He's the ultimate soldier."

In Croton and Hartford Township, hundreds gathered in the town square beginning at 10 a.m., before marching to the cemetery service.

"It's pleasant to see so many come out to honor those who gave their lives for their county," said Jack Debolt, master of ceremonies.

Pastor Dan Hamilton, of the Croton Church of Christ, said it seems so easy to remember those who paid the price for our freedoms, but it's also easy to forget.

He said those soldiers who have gone on would want prayers for those currently serving.

"I think they would want us to communicate to those currently serving," he said. "Don't forget to tell the story that goes with freedom."

While interviewing Croton resident Chase Austin, who has served in the Army in Iraq, Hamilton asked what he appreciates the most.

"He said the American way of life," Hamilton said. "In Iraq, they always feared for their lives."

Debolt said we live in a world boiling with unrest.

"There will always be a time with a need to remember," he said. "Never forget."

Vietnam veteran Mike Heffler takes time to remember every Memorial Day.

On Monday, he sported a shirt proclaiming, "America. Home of the brave. Because of the brave."

Heffler, who served in the Marine Corps, said he has attended Croton's Memorial Day ceremony for decades.

"I think it's great," he said. "I try to make it here and run down to Johnstown. My dad was in the Army in World War II."

Mary Cline, a former Licking County resident, lay on a gurney as she was brought to the cemetery service via the Hartford Volunteer Squad.

"I've been to the program before but never came to the cemetery," she said. "I lived out here but now I live in Mount Vernon."

Joyce Harris Ruby has been gone from Croton for more than 50 years, but said she enjoys returning for the Memorial Day services.

"You get to see people you grew up with," she said. "It's like a reunion."

Croton's ceremony was highlighted by a flyover by the Ohio Air National Guard at about 11: 30 a.m. The service was followed by an art show in the library and short band concert in the square.