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From The Desk Of Assemblyman Charles Lavine

Memorial Day: A Time to Pay Tribute

In December of 2000, Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance to recognize and honor all those in the military who died in service to our country. The National Moment of Remembrance Act memorialized a commemoration that began three years prior, in May 1997, when radio and television stations across the nation played Taps and asked Americans to pause for one minute at 3 p.m. local time, wherever they were, to pay tribute. 


It was a simple gesture to create a unified way to commemorate history, to honor our service men and women and to remind our citizens of the fragility of the freedom we hold so dear. 


In retrospect, it was an omen of sorts when just nine months later terrorists came to our shores to claim the lives of more than 3,000 of our sons, daughters, mothers and fathers, at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania and thrust us into a war in

Afghanistan that continues to this day. As part of the war on terrorism, we also found our military searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That war spanned eight years until troops began drawing down in 2011. 


In fact, American service men and women have lost their lives in at least seven wars and conflicts in the 20th century during what has been called the bloodiest century in all of history. 


In 2012, our country had 1.388 million men and women listed as being in the military. As of May 2014, the US has military personnel deployed in 150 countries around the world. That means that our service men and women provide military support to 75 percent of the world’s nations. 


The US military, whether in times of war or as peacekeepers, makes a profound contribution each and every day by risking their lives and we - their families and friends - have a responsibility to promote a greater understanding of the meaning of Memorial Day.


Gathering with family and friends to enjoy the start of the summer season is a fun tradition, but it also provides an opportunity to talk to our children and grandchildren about the significance of Memorial Day. Take in a parade honoring our military or participate in a ceremony where those who perished in war are paid tribute. Visit one of the many monuments that have been erected to remind us of the sacrifices made to ensure our nation’s freedom. 


Most importantly, take time to remember that while we honor those who died in war on Memorial Day, families around the country mourn every day for their loved ones lost. One of those killed was Billy Kier, my late mother’s first cousin, a teenage armored cavalry machine gunner whose young life ended in battle against the Imperial Japanese army in late May of 1945. 


The National Moment of Remembrance asks Americans to participate in an act of unity for one minute at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day to honor those who died in service to our country. One minute; 60 seconds to remember all those lost and to thank them for the many blessings we enjoy as a result of their sacrifice. It is the least we can do.