Memorial Day weekend is often associated with the opening of community pools, large family cookouts and the unofficial start of summer.

More importantly, the last Monday of May each year is set aside for us all to mourn those lost in service to our country through meaningful ceremonies and symbolic rituals that celebrate the perseverance of those who endured such losses.

Grove City has a commitment and long-standing tradition of Memorial Day weekend activities and services paying tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The events range from a patriotic concert in the streets of historic Town Center to a Broadway parade pausing at the eternal flame and military monument at City Hall for a memorial ceremony before proceeding to Grove City Cemetery's military monument for Memorial Day services.

We are a community passionate about honoring our warriors and never forgetting their sacrifices.

Sidelined by the measures taken to slow the spread of coronavirus, we could not gather this year. We did not bow our heads in silence together, hear veterans' stories or experience a rifle volley.

One of the most humbling privileges I have as mayor is to show respect for our fallen heroes and addressing those who gather at the cemetery on Memorial Day.

Missing out on that opportunity this year left a personal void for me, and I feel it has for others as well.

As a tribute, I visited the Grove City Cemetery and our Purple Heart Memorial Walk at Henceroth Park and read the names of our local martyrs.

Many residents shared their appreciation in other ways. Some spent the weekend placing American flags graveside for veterans who died.

Others chalked messages of gratitude on sidewalks and hung their flags at home.

And if you stepped outside at 3 p.m., you might have shared in the National Moment of Remembrance or heard a nearby bugler taking part in "Taps Across America."

Social-media platforms were powerful tools this year as many folks took to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share their appreciation, honor a lost family member and acknowledge that Memorial Day means much more to them than a barbecue and a day off work.

We are finding new ways to pay tribute to our veterans and their families and continue to think creatively as we approach Independence Day. Although the community fireworks display and activities are canceled this year, we cannot let the celebration of our country's independence be any less remarkable than in years past.

It might have a different look, but together we will continue to honor our veterans, remember our heroes, embrace our Gold Star family members and celebrate our nation's freedom.

Richard L. "Ike" Stage is the mayor of Grove City.