Assemblyman Cusick: Take the Time on Veterans Day to Pay Tribute to Those Who Sacrificed For Our Freedom
October 31, 2011
Men and women in uniform sacrifice every day across the globe for the freedoms we enjoy here at home. Every year on Nov. 11, Veterans Day gives us the opportunity to thank them and recognize their dedication. The commemoration carries the purpose of President Woodrow Wilson’s official Armistice Day proclamation in November 1919 to “be filled with the solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service.” We currently have over 106,200 troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to tens of thousands more stationed worldwide.1 Every day, soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. There are a number of national and local ceremonies on Veterans Day that honor their heroic deeds. One of our nation’s most moving tributes is the wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. The remains of unidentified soldiers from World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War are at rest here. Other ceremonies take place at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., New York City Veterans Day parades. There are also seven Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemeteries in New York State, including Albany Rural Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot; Bath National Cemetery; Calverton National Cemetery; Cypress Hills National Cemetery; Long Island National Cemetery; Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery; and Woodlawn National Cemetery. I encourage you to contact our local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter or our local American Legion chapter for more information about what you can do to honor our veterans and where to find other Veterans Day celebrations. Earlier this year, the Assembly passed a resolution I supported that officially thanks our soldiers and commemorates Nov. 11 as Veterans Day in New York State (K-705). But it is not enough to spend just one day honoring their efforts. In the Assembly I will work to help veterans receive the respect, honor and benefits they deserve at home. This year, I was the prime sponsor in legislation that signed into law that would establish a 300-foot buffer zone around military funeral services, protecting a family’s privacy from demonstrators (Ch. 528 of 2011) and allow local governments to require permits for any demonstrations taking place within 1,000 feet of the services (Ch. 527 of 2011). Protests that disrupt funerals are an affront to the families of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. No military family should ever have to suffer such disrespect. They deserve our utmost gratitude and these new laws will go a long way toward protecting them in their darkest hours. New York State proudly lends its support to a number of programs that ease the transition back to civilian life for military families. Some of the programs include:
- awarding scholarships for undergraduate and graduate studies at schools in New York State to qualifying veterans and their children;
- providing burial allowances of up to $6,000 for soldiers killed on active duty; and
- credit preferences, retention rights, and hiring exemptions for veterans in civil service jobs.