05/26/2014 at 12:00 PM EDT
To many Americans, Memorial Day means barbecues and the start of the summer season. But it's first and foremost a time to remember the men and women who have served our country, giving thanks to those who risk their lives everyday to protect ours.
PEOPLE is paying tribute to the Heroes Among Us
who have touched readers' hearts over the years, the U.S. soldiers and veterans who went beyond the call of duty to make the world a better place for us all.
In honor of their sacrifice, see five stunning photos showing how people around the world are commemorating our troops.
In the first photo (above), President Barack Obama spoke to troops during a surprise visit to the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan, Bagram Air Field, on Sunday.
Hundreds of Boy and Girl Scouts visited San Diego's Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Saturday, laying American flags at the graves.
In the Philippines, a visitor at the Manila American Cemetery on Sunday read the names of those who died during World War II that are engraved along the monument's walls.
Michael Reynolds / EPA / Landov
A soldier placed flags at the grave sites of his fellow countrymen at Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday.
Sara Caldwell / The Augusta Chronicle / ZUMA
The town of Aiken, South Carolina, celebrated Memorial Day on Saturday with a parade led by the Color Guard.