Gahanna residents will have many opportunities to pay their respects and remember veterans during Memorial Day ceremonies that begin at local cemeteries and end at the Gahanna Veterans Memorial, 75 W. Johnstown Road.

"Gold Star Families" is the theme at the Gahanna Veterans Memorial service, beginning at 1 p.m. Monday, May 27, said Becky Kneeland, a member of the Gahanna Veterans Memorial Committee.

"The Gold Star fraternity represents those whose loved ones paid the ultimate price for the cause of freedom," said Bob Fickle, a member of the Veterans Memorial Committee. "Our country owes them and theirs eternal gratitude and remembrance for the sacrifices of all."

The Gold Star first made an appearance during World War I after being placed over a service flag's blue star when a service member was killed in combat, according to goldstarfamilies.com. The Gold Star signified the family's pride in the loved one's sacrifice rather than the mourning of their personal loss.

Kneeland said the keynote speaker will be Brittnay McCall, who is a Gold Star spouse and works as a Survivor Outreach Services coordinator at the U.S. Army Reserve Center, 165 N. Yearling Road, Whitehall.

Her husband, U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel McCall, was killed in action while deployed in Iraq in 2007, Kneeland said.

A memorial wreath will be placed by Chuck and Carole Hoffman, whose son, Sgt. Justin Hoffman, was killed in action on Aug. 3, 2005. He was part of the Marine Corps Reserves' Lima Company, Kneeland said.

Attendees at the service will be welcomed by Bob Kendrick, news anchor at ABC 6/Fox 28.

The presentation of colors and a rifle volley will be provided by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Tri-Community Post 4719 and American Legion Post 797.

Gahanna Middle School East eighth-grader Sofia Rivera will sing the national anthem, and Gahanna Lincoln High School senior trumpeter Jacob Bentley will play taps.

The invocation and benediction will be offered by Father Denis Kigozi of the Church of the Resurrection, New Albany.

Fifteen individuals will be honored through the dedication of brick pavers bearing their names: Frank E. Kennedy, Charles F. Drosos, William Kennedy, Donald F. Drosos, Charles E. Drosos, Frank J. Drosos, Thomas D. Drosos, Lawrence Crosby, L. Clifton Kidd, Charles H. Drosos, William D. Drosos, Nick W. Stelzer, Ronald E. Foster, Cassondra Busch and Donald Struthers.

Prior to the service at the Gahanna Veterans Memorial, programs will be held at area cemeteries and the Creekside bridge by VFW Tri-Community Post 4719, VFW Post 4719 Auxiliary of Gahanna, American Legion Post 797 of Gahanna and Knights of Columbus Assembly 3037 of New Albany.

Services will begin at 9 a.m. at Riverside Cemetery, 3840 Sunbury Road; 9:45 a.m. at Maplewood Cemetery, 4585 Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road; 10:45 a.m. at Jefferson Cemetery, 870 Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road; 11:30 a.m. at the Creekside Bridge in Gahanna; 12:15 p.m. at the Mifflin Cemetery, 218 Agler Road; and 1 p.m. at Gahanna Veterans Memorial.

Ernest Massie, commander of VFW Post 4719, said the theme is "A Salute to Those Who Paid the Price of Freedom" with the program dedicated to the heroic dead of all wars.

"On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the armistice took effect, thus ending the fighting for World War I," Massie said. "The 'War to end All Wars' -- as we now know -- did not live up to its name. However, it is on this day that we, and the nations around the world that had participated in that Great War, have solemnized to honor those of us that have paid the supreme sacrifice while in the service of their respective nations from all conflicts."

Massie said he encourages all citizens to attend at least one of the six separate ceremonies -- in which the honor guard of Gahanna's own VFW Post 4719 and American Legion Post 797 will appear -- to commemorate Memorial Day.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla