2014-05-21 / Editorials

Memorial Day 2014: Honoring Those Who Serve

BY ARAVELLA SIMOTAS

This weekend, many in Western Queens will celebrate Memorial Day by enjoying barbecues, parties, and a day off from work or school. But while we gather with loved ones and enjoy the spring weather, it is important that we also remember the true reason behind this historic holiday – to honor the brave men and women who gave their lives in service to our country.

New York is home to the historical roots of Memorial Day, which was originally known as Decoration Day and first celebrated in 1866 to commemorate the soldiers who died during the Civil War. Families of the fallen gathered to honor their sacrifice, lay flowers upon their graves, and lower flags to half-mast. Our modern traditions were borne out of these early ceremonies, and the holiday was expanded to include service members who lost their lives in the subsequent difficult wars America faced throughout the 20th century.

Each spring, we continue to honor these heroes, pay tribute to surviving soldiers, and await the safe return of those who are still in harm’s way. Queens is home to more than 60,000 veterans and nearly 25,000 New Yorkers are currently serving on active duty across the globe. Many of those serving abroad or returning home from war are mothers and fathers who have given up precious time with their families and put their lives on the line in order to defend our nation.

This Memorial Day, please take a moment to thank a soldier and keep those in uniform in your thoughts. These individuals have selflessly served to ensure our freedom, peace, and security. As an elected official, I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that our troops and their families receive the support and resources they need. Happy Memorial Day to all.

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas represents the 36th District (Astoria, Long Island City and East Elmhurst) in the New York state Assembly.

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