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Don’t forget meaning of holiday

Many families across Central Washington spent Memorial Day weekend − the unofficial start of the summer vacation season − enjoying the weather outdoors at barbecues, county fairs and on hiking trails.

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Rep. Doc Hastings

More importantly, Memorial Day was a time when communities across America gather to pay tribute to the heroes who have bravely put on a uniform and answered the call of duty to defend the United States of America.

From the beginning of our nation, Americans have answered the call of duty to protect the principles of liberty, freedom, justice and equality. Whether it was in battles during World Wars I and II, Vietnam, Korea, or more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, our servicemen and women have sacrificed their lives to keep our nation safe and free.

In 1868, only three years after the end of the Civil War, Major General John A. Logan announced a new holiday, Decoration Day, to be observed May 30 at Arlington National Cemetery.

By the end of the 19th century, cities across the country were holding ceremonies on and designating May 30 as Memorial Day. After World War I, the ceremonies expanded to remember all troops who had fallen in all American wars. In 1971, Congress officially declared the last Monday in May a national holiday − Memorial Day.

Our state is home to more than 601,000 veterans and over 65,000 active duty and reserve officers.

In Central Washington, our pride in our men and women in uniform runs deep. We value their service to our country and we recognize the sacrifices these members of our Armed Forces and their families make are critical to preserving our country’s freedoms.

Our brave men and women wake up every day and put their lives on the line, so that we can go to work without fear and raise our children in a free society.

Thanks to their bravery and sacrifice, we are privileged to live in a nation where individuals continue to voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way in order to preserve the values that generations of Americans have held so dear. And for that, they deserve our utmost gratitude and respect.

This Memorial Day, between the cookouts and baseball games, please take a moment to remember the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and that of their loved ones left behind. Let us never forget that those who volunteer to keep us safe from harm may one day be taken from us while defending our very freedoms they are protecting.

Please join me in honoring, remembering, and thanking our heroes who have and will make the ultimate sacrifice for our great country, not only on Memorial Day, but every day.

Rep. Doc Hastings represents Washington’s 4th Congressional District, including part of Okanogan County.

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