On May 28, Memorial Day, we are given a chance to honor our nation’s fallen heroes and reflect on their bravery in making the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard our precious freedom. This year, as we remember those have died in America’s wars throughout our history, we can also commemorate the end of the Iraq War and honor the memories of the thousands of brave men and women who were killed in action.
In December, the Iraq War officially ended. From the time the war began in March 2003 to when it ended in December 2011, more than 1 million troops fought overseas. Over 4,500 American troops were killed and an additional 30,000 were wounded.
As President Obama said, the remaining troops left “with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. This year, especially, we remember all those who have lost their lives in Iraq.”
President Obama recently made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, where he signed a pact that signifies the beginning of the end of the Afghanistan War. 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 were deployed there-and all over the world-over the past decade, defending us from international terrorists and keeping our families safe here at home.
You may not know that Memorial Day was first celebrated right here in New York State in 1886. The celebration took place on Main Street in the village of Waterloo, in Seneca, during springtime. Flowers were placed on the graves of fallen soldiers and flags were lowered to half mast to honor and commemorate those who gave their lives to protect us, our homes and our nation, and remembrance ceremonies were held.
Over 120 years later, we continue to honor fallen soldiers in the same way we did then – a tradition across America. A wonderful tradition!
Memorial Day is a day that unites our country in remembrance of our fallen heroes, recognizing all they did for us, and an opportunity to express our gratitude to all these individuals. I am dedicated to honoring and preserving the memory of those who died during the times of conflict – the heroes who leave their lives behind to fight every day across the world to defend our freedom. They are our true heroes and an inspiration to New Yorkers. I will do everything in my power to ensure the best for our troops and their families, while they are at home and abroad. God Bless them all!