Rockland County Legislature Chairman Alden H. Wolfe and Legislator Phil Soskin are paying tribute to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been lost in the line of duty, as well as loved ones who have died in accidents, by illness or other causes.
“From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror, Rockland County has seen painful losses as too many have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Legislator Wolfe said. “We are deeply indebted to these heroes who lost their lives to ensure our continuing freedoms. I offer my deepest gratitude to each one, as well as their families.”
Legislator Wolfe also acknowledged that for many people, the purpose of Memorial Day has changed.
“Memorial Day has evolved into a time when many people honor family members and friends who are no longer here,” Legislator Wolfe said. “A year ago, that included the families of more than 600 people who died in Rockland due to COVID-19, a number that today has sadly risen to include the families of more than 955 people. I extend my sincerest condolences to the families grieving the recent loss of a family member no matter the cause.”
Memorial Day was originally set aside to honor the Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War, but it was later expanded to honor all U.S. military members who died in any war.
Over time, some people have also come to view Memorial Day as an opportunity to remember other loved ones who have passed on, be it from illness, an accident, or other means, such as the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks or in service as a firefighter or police officer.
Legislator Soskin, a U.S. Army veteran who served from November 1956 to November 1958, most of the time in France, said we should all express our gratitude to those who died in defense of the nation.
“Sadly, in the 21st century, there are many places around the world where you cannot sleep soundly at night without fear of rocket attacks, where you cannot go to school without fear of being kidnapped,” Legislator Soskin said. “In the United States, we enjoy many freedoms, but each one has required a payment that has often involved the loss of the life of a member of our military services.”
Legislator Soskin said many who died while in service to the country were young and never had a chance to get married and raise a family, or they left a spouse and children behind. Others did not outright die in war but returned home with physical, mental or emotional disabilities that effectively “killed” their former selves.
“The price these service members paid is something we can never repay, but we can, and we should show our gratitude,” Legislator Soskin said. “Their sacrifices have helped us become the greatest country on the planet.”