May 22, 2013

Milwaukee Courier

Legislatively Speaking: Memorial Day – Remembering those that have fallen

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

Last week, I wrote about the need to support our Veterans in budget.  I also emphasized our responsibility as legislatures to ensure that Veterans have the resources they need and the care they have earned.  That responsibility does not begin or end with the budget, but exists throughout the legislative term. 

Still, this week, I want to take a moment to honor the veterans that have served, fought, and fallen to protect our freedoms.  On Monday, May 27th we celebrate Memorial Day.  Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and it is a day of thanks.  Each veteran and fallen soldier deserves our thoughts, prayers, and thanks throughout the year.  Yet, Memorial Day is a special day in which remember those that died to protect the living. 

Across the decades and centuries of our country’s history we have soldiers from every generation that put their country before themselves.  These soldiers bore with them America’s ideals as they fought to protect the freedoms of our citizens and the interest of democracy abroad. Yet, in the realities of warfare, countless have fallen in their service.  Now, cemeteries throughout the country are filled with the lasting graves of young men and women who have made a sacrifice that we can never truly repay. 

How then, do we honor those that have fallen for us?  How do we begin to repay their sacrifice? We first, must remember to give our sincerest and most gracious thanks.  That thankfulness should be emphasized but never ended on Memorial Day.  Although we may never wholly realize the incredible sacrifice these young men and women have given to America, we cannot, should not, and will not forget it.  To be sure then, that we always remember, we must do our best to carry on the American ideals that so many have died for. 

Even further, we must continue to push down the path towards guaranteeing those freedoms for all.  In society, we are all the stewards of democracy.  Each of us bares the responsibility to promote and participate in the democratic government that our soldiers have fought and died for.  We do our veterans and fallen soldiers no honor when we fail to utilize our freedoms and promote democracy.

In this way, we truly honor our veterans and our fallen soldiers.  Not only by remembering the sacrifice they made, but by using wisely the freedoms that they died to protect.  We must remember that legislatures and elected officials are not the only members of a democracy.  Each of us is an equally important part of our system of government and we must all be willing participants.  By taking our democracy for granted, we disrespect the many who died defending it. 

This Memorial Day, remember those who died for our freedoms; be thankful for the blessings that we have because of their sacrifice; and, finally, honor their memory by promoting the freedoms we have.  The continuation of our democracy will ensure that those who have fallen will never be forgotten.