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Letter to the Editor: What Memorial Day Means to Me

State Rep. Karen May tells the meaning of the holiday.

On Monday, we will all take a break from our hectic lives to celebrate Memorial Day.  While the weekend may signal the start of summer, the opening of the beaches and pools and family picnics, we must also take time to remember why we are all so fortunate to be here to celebrate the holiday.

On Memorial Day we remember the men and women from our own communities who gave their lives so that we and our children and grandchildren could live in a free nation, and so that others around the world could enjoy the same freedoms that we in the United States often take for granted.  My young nephew, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, recently returned from service in Afghanistan.  Many of my uncles and my father-in-law proudly served in the U.S. Army.  My family, like every American family, includes people who gave up parts of their lives to protect all of us.

In my district I am proud to have as my constituents those who serve our nation at Naval Station Great Lakes, and at Ft. Sheridan.  We appreciate their continuing commitment and sacrifices to protect our democracy.

On the monument of my hometown, Highland Park, are inscribed the names of the residents of our city who died in service to our nation.  Every city and town in America has such a list of young men and women who never lived to have children of their own, or to see their young children grow to adulthood.  They left behind parents, siblings, spouses and children who shared their sacrifice for our nation.

Today we have brave young men and women serving around the world to protect our freedom and that of every freedom-loving nation.  Yesterday on the floor of the House of Representatives in Springfield we read the names and displayed the photos of every member of the armed forces from Illinois who died in service to our nation in the last year.  It is a sad and moving tradition which we conduct in the House every year.  I pray that one day the House will not have a new list of names to read on Memorial Day. 

We are scheduled to be in session in Springfield over the holiday weekend, so I do not yet know whether I will be able to join you at our local Memorial Day services.  If I cannot be at our local ceremonies, I want to share these sentiments with you.

May God bless all of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of all of us here today, and may God bless America and all of those who serve her. 

Karen May 

State Representative, 59th District

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