Each year, we celebrate Memorial Day in recognition of our soldiers who have made countless sacrifices in service to their country, and each of us. As we celebrate what has come to be known as the unofficial beginning of summer, we should all take the time to remember the real reason for this day – to honor and remember those who have lost their lives during conflicts both past and present.
Memorial Day is a solemn reminder of the dedication, loyalty and ultimate sacrifices so many men and women have made for our country. These sons and daughters of the United State have given us so much to keep our country and her people safe and free. It is the most noble and honorable sacrifice one can make, and we truly owe our freedom to these fallen soldiers.
I understand the significance of the sacrifices that our service men and women make every day. That’s why my Assembly colleagues and I have passed laws that better provide for the families of soldiers while they are called for duty. Our hard-working military personnel deserve our support not just in words, but with actions that facilitate their return to civilian life. We’re dedicated to providing them with access to proper medical care, fair opportunities for employment, and help with furthering their education. During the past few years, I have proudly supported new laws to:
- Erect and maintain a monument honoring state residents awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor – to be located near the Empire State Plaza in Albany (Ch. 690 of 2006);
- Obtain treatment services for veterans exposed to toxic materials or harmful chemicals, including health screenings, and establish a task force to study the effects of the exposure (Ch. 743 of 2006);
- Establish a New York State Veterans’ Hall of Fame (Ch. 434 of 2005); and
- Provide death benefits and health insurance coverage to eligible survivors of public employees who die while on active duty (Ch. 105 of 2005).
Our community has seen so many young men and women lost to us in the prime of their lives: people like U.S. Army Cpl. Raheen Tyson Heighter, Marine Lance Cpl. Ramon Mateo, U.S. Army Sergeant Michael Esposito, Jr., U.S. Army Pfc. Jose Ruiz, and U.S. Army Spc. Jacob Fletcher will be sorely missed. This Memorial Day, like every day, we remember and honor them for their service. Their commitment to their country, and each and every one of us, took them from their homes, family, and friends in order to serve. They made the ultimate sacrifice, and for this we are forever in their debt.
As we approach Memorial Day, I would encourage everyone to say a small ‘thank you’ to the veterans in our lives, whether they be family members, friends, neighbors, or simply the person who sits at the next table at your favorite restaurant. As your Assemblyman, my door remains open to all our brave men and women in uniform – if I can be of any help, please, let me know.
To our veterans and active duty military personnel: we are grateful for all that you do. Thank you.