On Monday, May 26, we celebrate Memorial Day. It always falls on a Monday â€“ and itâ€™s always a three-day weekend.
Over the next couple of days, people will take time off and head to the mountains, beaches, theme parks or other destination spots to have fun and relax. Others will enjoy the long weekend by catching up on reading, watching their favorite TV shows or just hanging around the house.
While itâ€™s always good to have a three-day weekend and get some down-time with friends or family, thatâ€™s not what Memorial Day is about. And, sometime during this weekend, itâ€™s important to pause and think about the “memorialâ€ in Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is officially set aside as a day to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us and for our country. We remember those service members â€“ Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors â€“ who lost their lives in conflicts from the American Revolution to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Our region has a long history of military service dating even to the days before the Republic of Texas. The 23rd District of Texas encompasses nearly 24 percent of the land area of Texas â€“stretching from the south side of San Antonio through the Trans-Pecos and Big Bend regions and into the Mission Valley of El Paso.
Many of our sons and daughters have served â€“ or are now serving â€“ in the U.S. Armed Services.
In our most recent conflicts, the 23rd District of Texas has lost more than 80 service members. These individuals hailed from places as disparate as San Antonio, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Clint, Socorro and El Paso. These individuals gave their all â€“ they sacrificed holidays, birthdays and good times with their families â€“ because their nation â€“ our nation â€“ asked them to.
Outside the door of my Washington office, I keep a poster with the names, pictures and hometowns of each of these men and women. It is there to ensure that I will never forget them and their service â€“ and that I always remember that my decisions have real consequences for real families. Every time I walk in or out of my office, I see their faces and remember. And, just as importantly, anyone and everyone walking into my office sees their faces and remembers, too.
On the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, I have learned much. I have learned to more fully appreciate the rigors, danger and selfless devotion of military service. I work each day to provide the needed resources, facilities, gear and tools for our sons and daughters and those serving in our countryâ€™s military. While we celebrate, they stand guard. Because of their service, we are able to enjoy this day and every day in the land of the free.
We are truly privileged to be Americans. On this Memorial Day, let us pledge never to forget those whose selfless sacrifice purchased that privilege. Remember them today. Remember them tomorrow. Remember them always.
U.S. Representative Pete P. Gallego, D-Alpine, represents the 23rd District of Texas, which includes all or parts of 29 counties in southwest Texas, stretching from San Antonio to El Paso. He serves on the House Armed Services and House Agriculture Committees.