Remembering Those Who Died For Our Country

This weekend, while we gather with family and friends to celebrate Memorial Day, we must also take time to remember all the brave men and women who have fought and died for our country. It is important we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom around the globe so we could remain safe at home.  

Next month marks the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Midway in WWII, considered one of the most important battles of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Campaign. More than 300 Americans lost their lives preventing the Japanese from taking the island of Midway, a key to U.S. defenses in the Pacific. This Memorial Day, take pause at the heroism and resolve of those who fell defending American territory and ideals during that incredible battle.

HONORING THE LIVES & LEGACIES OF FALLEN SOLDIERS

As the son, father, brother and uncle of U.S. veterans, I have a heartfelt appreciation for everything our soldiers and their families sacrifice. In honor of the families who have lost a service member during a war, the Assembly Minority Conference has sponsored legislation to help them deal with their tremendous loss.

In addition to a number of pieces of legislation aimed at helping our veterans, I proudly support the College Tuition for Family Members of Fallen Military Personnel (A.1737, Hawley), which would allow the surviving dependent family members of New York State military personnel, who died while on active duty, to receive free tuition, room, and board at SUNY or CUNY institutions.

On the federal level, the Post 9/11 GI Bill allows the transfer of benefits from a service member to immediate family members. If the service member loses their life defending our country their family shouldn’t lose the opportunity to use those benefits.

WATERLOO: THE BIRTHPLACE OF MEMORIAL DAY
 
As local residents know, this weekend holds a special place for our region. The Village of Waterloo was home to the nation’s first Memorial Day ceremony in 1866. Henry C. Welles, a local druggist, came up with the idea to commemorate the lives lost during the Civil War. 
 
Mr. Welles joined General John B. Murray, the Seneca County Clerk, to formalize what we now call Memorial Day. As a result, in 1868, General John A. Logan issued General Order No. 11 establishing “Decoration Day” on May 5, exactly two years after Waterloo’s village-wide ceremony.

This weekend there will be no shortage of festivities in Waterloo commemorating Memorial Day, and recognizing the Village’s place in history. As always, there is something for everyone and a variety of events and activities families can enjoy. For information on Waterloo’s Memorial Day Celebration, please visit http://waterloony.com/memorial-day/celebrate-commemorate/ .
 
I hope each of you can take a moment to reflect on the gravity of what our parades, cook-outs and celebrations represent. Without the incredible bravery and sacrifices of the U.S. Armed Forces, we would not be able to enjoy the many luxuries and liberties we too often take for granted. As we continue to face an uncertain world, we must be especially mindful of how fortunate we are to live in the greatest country, under the protection of the greatest military force in the world.

What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, e-mail me at kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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