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Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens honors Maryland's fallen service members in annual Memorial Day ceremony

Memorial Day ceremony at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens honors Maryland's fallen service members
Memorial Day ceremony at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens honors Maryland's fallen service members 02:16

BALTIMORE -- The 57th annual Memorial Day Ceremony was held Monday at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, honoring fallen service members with ties to Maryland and paying tribute to all fallen service members. 

For the Soriano family, this year's Memorial Day marked their first without their loved one: Juan Soriana.

The seaman apprentice died in a car accident in Lemoore, California -- where he was stationed -- in December.

"I've always known that Memorial Day is not just about a big cookout, but it's personal now," said Chelsea Long, Soriano's sister. "Things like this are a chance for us to keep my brother's memory alive."

The ceremony included a wreath placement, TAPS and a 21-gun salute as a tribute to those lost. Governor Wes Moore, who was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, gave remarks at the solemn occasion. 

"I'm speaking on behalf of an entire state when I say we are here for you today," Moore said, addressing the families of fallen service members at the ceremony. "We are here for you tomorrow. We are here for you always. Because the sacrifice that your families have made and the commitment that you have made to this state and to this country will never be able to be repaid." 

Soriano was among eight service members honored in this year's ceremony.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Christopher Chambers was another one who was honored. The Prince George's County native was lost in the Arabian Sea on a mission in January after he tried to save his teammate. 

Also honored was U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Makai Cummings, who was returning to his base in North Carolina from a visit home to Baltimore last year when he was struck and killed in a hit-and-run.

The family speaker was Sergeant Stephanie White, a U.S. Army veteran and Maryland Gold Star Mother. She served as a 74F Computer Programmer in the Vietnam War era and her son, Private First Class Robert White, died in a tank fire while training at Fort Hood in 2002.  

White humanized her son, remembering his favorite colors and music, hobbies and family life. 

"Today as we honor all branches of the military, please let us always remember they were fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, neighbors, and friends, and that they served our country honorably," White said. "They shall never be forgotten as we reflect upon their lives this Memorial Day. May their souls rest in peace."

Families of service members honored in ceremonies in years past also attended, creating a big support network among these families.

"Just like there were people for us, we want to make sure that people are supported for all that they're going through," said Charles Motsay, whose son Capt. Kenneth Motsay died last year.

Every year, the ceremony recognizes a Maryland nonprofit that supports military members. This year it honored Wellspring of Life Farm, a Monkton farm that provides equine and canine therapy to active-duty military, veterans, first responders and others. 

The ceremony also took a moment to honor Marylanders who died on 9/11. The state's 9/11 Rolling Memorial was also on site.

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