Several memorial parks in Southern Maryland pay homage to the servicemen and women who have fought for and given their lives to help keep this country free.
In John G. Lancaster Park in Lexington Park, a bronze sculpture of a Civil War soldier sits atop a granite memorial to each of the St. Mary’s County’s 618 black soldiers and 63 white soldiers who gave their lives for the Union in the 1861-1865 conflict.
A bronze plaque says the monument is “dedicated in grateful tribute to the United States Colored Troops of St. Mary’s County.” It also honors emancipated slaves, freedmen and all noble sons of St. Mary’s County who fought during the Civil War to “save the Union and secure the heritage of human freedom.”
A separate granite memorial is dedicated to Pvt. William Barnes, a 33-year-old farmer who was awarded the Medal of Honor for being “among the first to enter the enemy’s works, although wounded.”
A separate memorial is dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. James H. Harris, for gallant conduct in the assault of the 29th instant.
There are other memorials in St. Mary’s just before the entrance to Point Lookout State Park and another in Helen, near Morganza.
“It’s a big weekend to memorialize everyone who put their lives on the line,” said Leonardtown Mayor Dan Burris, whose town has a memorial in the square listing everyone from the county who lost their lives in war. “Please remember those who lost their lives for our nation. Everyone enjoys the long weekend, but I think they overlook what the importance of Memorial Day is all about.”
In Calvert County, at the end of Dowell Road and around a corner, the On Watch memorial looks out toward Back Creek in Solomons.
The memorial, which consists of a sailor sculpted by Antonio Tobias Mendez, a small garden and engraved bricks, commemorates the World War II U.S. Naval Amphibious Training Base in Solomons from 1942-1945.
A plaque states that more 68,000 servicemen and servicewomen trained for amphibious landings and later served in both the European and Pacific theaters.
“Memorial Day means a lot more than just a singular day,” said Greer Camp of Lusby, who served from 2015-2020, including a 36-month stint as part of the Pacific Air Combat Element. “It’s great that it has one day but Memorial Day as a whole should be remembered throughout the year. You have to remember that there’s so many people have given so much and have given everything, including their lives, for the idea for there to be a free world. ... Those people deserve to be cherished and loved for that.”
On Main Street in Prince Frederick is a column-like memorial that is dedicated to the “glory of almighty God in memory of Calvert County men and women who served their country with valor and honor.”
A few steps away is a small marker designating the area as Veterans Green, which was dedicated May 31, 1999.
A short march from the front door of the American Legion Post 82 in La Plata sits an Honor Roll monument “in memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice.”
The Charles County monument, which was erected Nov. 11, 1953, lists 62 individuals who perished in World War II, 15 in the Vietnam War, eight who died in the Global War on Terror, seven in the Korean War and Robert Dean Stethem, who was killed in the Lebanon/Grenada conflict. Stethem also has a park named in his honor in Waldorf.
There is also the Maryland Veterans Museum at Patriot Park, which is located at 11000 Crain Highway in Newburg, and is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
Camp said he will spend the weekend remembering two servicemen he personally knew who gave their lives for their country.
“I will be remembering them that day,” said Camp, who was medically discharged from the service and is an Osprey mechanic for DynCorp at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. “It’s a great day, it’s a heroic day and it’s a day that should be cherished, but all I ask is that everyone as a whole remember throughout the year spontaneously in their mind that we live in this country and go where I can with the freedoms I have. You see social media these days and some people don’t even know what Memorial Day is for. It’s very embarrassing as a country, but it’s just a matter of reminding them and letting them know that, ‘Hey, this is what it’s actually for,’ and give recognition that people have made sacrifices. A lot bigger sacrifices than people can even imagine. It’s a day to just focus on that.”