Annually, on the final Monday in May, we gather and honor those who have sacrificed their lives to protect our nation and its freedoms. Since May of 1868, when Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day and celebrated on May 30, our nation (and the state of Wisconsin) has held this day as a close and constant reminder that many men and women across our nation have given their lives for the longevity of our union.
Over time, Memorial Day has evolved into the federal holiday that we recognize today. The original proclamation for Decoration Day was in solidarity of the fallen soldiers from the Civil War. It was not until 1956 when the final surviving Union veteran from the Civil War passed away that Decoration Day became a national day of remembrance.
As our entire nation began to observe this holiday together, we also began to honor the fallen soldiers from all wars, not simply the Civil War. In 1971, the present-day observation of Memorial Day was solidified when Congress officially declared a federal holiday on the final Monday in May.
America and small communities like ours continue to be blessed with many brave men and woman who do not view serving their country as a burden, but as a sacred duty. I think that all of us share the same hope that each conflict, battle or war will be our last. Sadly, we are reminded all too regularly that threats to our way of life do exist. As time passes, the enemies and threats to our national security may change, but the valor of the men and women willing to answer our nation’s call has not.
The 12th Senate District hosts 33,000 of Wisconsin’s veterans and I gladly serve them and the rest of my district. I think it is important to reflect today on all of our servicemen and women. I will continue to work and ensure that we provide our state’s veterans and the families of our veterans and fallen soldiers the opportunities and resources to be successful.
Last year I challenged everyone to take time out of their weekend to attend one of the many observances in our local communities and I renew my call this year. Wisconsin has lost nearly 27,000 of its brave citizens since the culmination of the Civil War. Any small commitment of our time pales in comparison to the sacrifice that these men and women have had for our country.
As we reflect on the sacrifices of our fallen heroes this Memorial Day, let us keep a prayer in our heart for those still serving and a spirit of gratitude toward our living veterans. We also must keep the promise that we will never, ever forget.
Sen. Tom Tiffany, 12th Senate District