Assemblyman Abinanti speaking at the Memorial March conducted by Greenburgh's Fairview Fire Company.
They are not strangers. They were our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers; many were hardly older than children. They were regular everyday people called on to do something special – and they did it. They became heroes.
It’s reported that this great Memorial Day tradition started here in New York - in a small upstate town. In 1866, the Seneca County village of Waterloo honored fallen heroes by placing flowers on their graves, lowering flags to half mast and holding remembrance ceremonies. Over 140 years later, we continue the tradition – a tradition that unites our country
It is fitting that the tradition started in New York. Reports show that more have served in the Armed Forces from New York than from any other state. They have served around the world -- on battlefields from Saratoga and Gettysburg to Europe, Africa, the Far East and the Middle East -- anywhere US Forces are needed. Today over 24,000 men and women from New York serve in active duty and another 32,000 are in the guard/reserve. Sadly, we lost 316 brave New Yorkers since fighting began in the Middle East in 2002.
We owe our fallen soldiers and their families a solemn debt. We must be sure that they get the dignity, honor and support they have earned -- not just on Memorial Day but every day.
Words of thanks are good but inadequate. We need to:
- Support their families. Every soldier’s death is a personal tragedy for the family left behind.
- Uphold the principles for which they fought: democratic governance, free expression, equal opportunity, and justice for all.
- Give thanks to veterans who do return – insuring their needs are met – especially, health care, education and jobs. Over 23 million former service members live in the US today -- over 1 million in New York.
Today, as we stand together for those who stood for us, let us resolve to uphold our responsibilities to the men and women who have left their lives behind to fight for peace around the world and our responsibilities to their families who anxiously await their return.