By Councilmember Mathieu Eugene
Chair, NYC Council Veterans’ Committee
Each year since the end of the Civil War, we set aside a day to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers who have fought bravely to serve and protect our country. We take time to remember the countless number of service members in our nation’s history who have made invaluable sacrifices to maintain our way of life and preserve the gift of freedom we enjoy as a people. Most important, we share the memories of all service members who have passed away in the line of duty and retell their story to younger generations to ensure their place in our nation’s history never becomes overlooked or forgotten.
On Memorial Day, we show our admiration for all members of the military who have fought overseas and followed the call of duty, even when confronted with the uncertainty of returning home. We remember the contributions of service members within our communities and from our families who deserve recognition for their own individual efforts. I don’t believe we can thank service members enough for what they’ve provided for us, but I hope that by coming together, as we do every year in observance of Memorial Day, we can display our highest level of respect and honor.
As we all know, many service members remain on active duty and continue to fight in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. While we remember those from every period of our history, let us also take this opportunity to reflect upon those who currently serve our country and express our support for the job they continue to do. As more and more troops come back to the United States, we need to find ways of welcoming them home and demonstrating that we are grateful for their service. Memorial Day should serve as a day when we say thank you to the service members and veterans we know from our personal lives and show them that we care.
As the Chair of the Veterans Committee in the New York City Council, I am proud to serve veterans living across New York City and work to address the issues faced by service members when they become discharged from the military. As a city, I believe that we should do more to strengthen the services, programs and benefits available to veterans. It is unfortunate to see veterans who are homeless, searching desperately for a job, or suffering from mental health problems such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We need to continue raising awareness of these challenges and also create a stronger support network for veterans who may benefit from services offered by the city, state and federal government.
This Memorial Day, let us remain focused on addressing the issues affecting veterans, recommit ourselves to honoring their service, and help fight for them, just as they fought for us.