Memorial Day is celebrated every year as a national day of remembrance to honor our fallen soldiers, both past and present, and reflect on their bravery in making the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard our freedom. With the Iraq War now over and the War in Afghanistan coming to a close, this year we pay homage to the dedicated servicemen and women who perished during the War on Terror, in addition to the countless brave men and women who have been killed in the defense of our great country throughout America’s history.
In the village of Waterloo, New York, our nation’s first Memorial Day was held in 1866 to commemorate soldiers lost in the Civil War. A ceremony was held on Main Street, flowers were placed on the graves of soldiers and flags were lowered to half mast as citizens remembered the fallen members of their community. The tradition soon took hold across the nation and today, over 120 years later, we continue to honor fallen soldiers in the same manner. Memorial Day unites our country in a day of gratitude as we all remember the cost of the freedoms we enjoy in our every day lives.
In the Assembly, I am dedicated to honoring and preserving the memory of heroes who died during times of conflict. I will do everything in my power to ensure the best for our troops and their families, while they are at home and abroad. The men and women in uniform – the heroes who fight across the world to defend our freedom – are an inspiration for all New Yorkers.
This year, I authored two bills to help our veterans. The first would establish a program to help veterans receive their high school diplomas and the second reduces the fees of civil service exams for veterans (A.9872; A.9969). These measures are imperative at a time when nearly 13 percent of New York State’s veterans are unemployed. We have an obligation to make sure our veterans don’t get left behind in this difficult labor market.
In December, the Iraq War officially ended and from the time the war began in March 2003, more than 1 million troops fought overseas. This year, we remember all those who have fought in this conflict, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq.
Recently, President Obama signed a pact with Afghan President Karzai that ends our country’s combat involvement in Afghanistan. By the end of the summer, 23,000 troops will leave Afghanistan, and by the end of 2014, all troops will be brought home. We honor the thousands of New Yorkers who have been deployed there – and all over the world – defending our freedom and keeping our families safe here at home.
This Memorial Day, let’s take the time to honor the brave men and women in uniform who lost their lives fighting to defend our freedoms and our country. There are a number of local ceremonies throughout the community and I encourage everyone to attend.
Please feel free to contact me about veterans’ issues, or any other state or community matter, at 718-945-9550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.