Memorial Day

May 26, 2010

Memorial Day with its picnics, parades and family gatherings is the signal that summer is finally here. For us New Englanders, warm weather is always cause for celebration. But, as Americans who are the beneficiaries of freedom and democracy, Memorial Day is so much more. It is a day of remembrance, and a day of gratitude.

As a state senator, I have the privilege of marching in Memorial Day parades and actively participating in the day’s solemn ceremonies. On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, I will proudly march in the Woodbury and Middlebury parades and, on Memorial Day, in the Southbury parade. As always, I am honored to have the opportunity to stand with our local veterans in remembrance of all the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our country, and our freedom. I hope to have the pleasure of seeing many of you at these events.

Memorial Day has a long and distinguished history. It was originally known as Decoration Day, dating back to the Civil War when women’s groups in the south decorated the graves of fallen soldiers. The first Memorial Day was proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic – an organization of former sailors and soldiers – and first observed that year on May 30th by placing flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Over time, individual states began to officially recognize Memorial Day as it evolved into a day of remembrance of the soldiers who died in every war, not just the Civil War. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day exists so that we never forget the men and women who died fighting for us. It is also important to remember that every man and woman who dies in battle leaves behind someone who mourns, someone whose life is forever changed by the fact that this soldier’s life has been sacrificed for the good of our country. In 2000, Congress established the White House Commission on Remembrance, an independent nonpartisan agency charged with encouraging us to honor fallen soldiers and their families. It carries out this mission by, among other things, sponsoring the National Moment of Remembrance and urging all of us to pause at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day in an act of national unity. The White House Commission on Remembrance sponsors a website at More information about Memorial Day can be found at, which also includes links to other sites providing information about this important holiday.

I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about legislation I championed this year that, if it had it passed, would have tremendously benefited veterans who are senior citizens. This proposed legislation, which passed the Senate but died without a vote in the House, called for permitting veterans who are least 70 to establish a veterans’ property tax exemption claim by providing the tax assessor with a notarized statement attesting that he or she was honorably discharged from service and that the discharge paper or copy was destroyed by fire or other natural disaster. The need for this legislation was brought to my attention by a local veteran whose official records, along with those of many other veterans, were destroyed by a fire at an out of state facility. Existing law requires an original or certified copy of a veteran’s discharge document to establish eligibility for the exemption – unless the veteran can produce two affidavits of “disinterested people” attesting to his or her military service and honorable discharge.

This legislation is important to veterans who should not be denied the rights they have earned because of circumstances beyond their control. On this Memorial Day, I want to assure veterans that I will continue my efforts to secure passage of this legislation so that they can benefit from the property tax exemptions they have earned, and deserve.

As always, I urge constituents to contact me with their questions and concerns, or to discuss issues that are important to Connecticut. I can be reached at my legislative office in Hartford at 1-800-842-1421 or via e-mail to [email protected]