As Secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, I am honored to serve the 385,000 veterans who call Maryland home. As a veteran myself, Memorial Day resonates deeply with me. As we gather with friends and family this holiday weekend, let us not forget the men and women who valiantly served and who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great nation. Let us remember the sacrifice made by the many who have lost thosedearest, our Gold Star families. The sacrifice these heroes and families made has created the great nation we live in today. Many of us are familiar with the story of how Memorial Day was established.

Our country was nearly torn apart by the Civil War, but after the guns were laid down, people in cities and towns across the nation began to gather and remember those who had died. Originally called Decoration Day, May 30 was designated as the day to visit and place flowers on the graves of those who died in service to their country.

In Annapolis this Memorial Day weekend, the United States Naval Academy will graduate the Midshipmen of the Class of 2021. The Air Force Academy, West Point, and Coast Guard Academy have also graduated the next generation of military leaders. They will go on to be Admirals, Generals, pilots, ship captains and more. Others will join the enlisted ranks and provide support and leadership across the globe. They will serve in an increasingly complicated and technologically advanced world. They are the hope for our future and yes— those responsibilities may place them in harm’s way.

On this holiday weekend, I ask you to contemplate what more you can do to honor and support the members of our United States Armed Services. I ask you to support our nation’s veterans, and Maryland veterans in particular. They are your neighbors, your friends, and your relatives. Take time to learn of their experiences and pause to consider the sacrifice made by their spouses, their children, and their parents. Thank them all for their service as active duty service members, veterans, family members and loved ones.

Finally, take a pledge this weekend to visit at least one of the four Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs memorials. Recite the names of Marylanders lost in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Pause at the Gold Star Memorial and reflect on the sacrifice made by the families of the fallen. And finally, onbehalf of our entire Department, enjoy a safe and relaxing holiday weekend.

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