May 26, 2014
By Assembly Member William Colton
Brooklyn NY – As summer approaches, many of us will be celebrating Memorial Day by enjoying barbecues, parties and time off from work and school. But while we gather with our families and spend time resting and relaxing, it’s important that we also remember why the holiday was created – to honor the brave men and women who have lost their lives defending our nation’s freedom. The meaning of the day should move us to say a prayer or hold a moment of silence to remember the men and women who perished fighting for our freedoms and those that continue to fight on our behalf.
In 1866, Waterloo, NY, became the birthplace of modern Memorial Day. Families gathered to celebrate the sacrifice of fallen soldiers and honored their loved ones by placing flowers on their graves and lowering American flags to half-staff. Today, family and friends still come together every spring in the spirit of commemoration, holding remembrance ceremonies and pausing to show gratitude to those who have lost their lives in the many difficult wars our nation has been involved in since that first gathering. From the volunteer soldiers serving in the Continental Army to secure the birth of our nation, to those that stormed the shores of Normandy and Iwo Jima during World War II, to those that fought in the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War, to those who answered the call after the attacks on 9/11, we must remember all who fought for our country and our freedoms.
As we remember the fallen, we should also recognize the sacrifices of surviving soldiers, veterans and their families. These brave men and women serving abroad or returning home from war are sons and daughters, and many of them are parents themselves. They all have sacrificed precious time with their families and their own children, and put their lives on the line in order to defend our country and the rights we often take for granted.
God bless you and your families, and God bless the United States of America.