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Honoring our Veterans this Memorial Day

Many of us spend the last weekend in May enjoying picnics, parades and cook-outs marking the unofficial start to summer. But how many of us take the time to commemorate the true meaning of this holiday weekend? This long weekend is set aside for Americans to pause in their daily routines and remember our soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us so that we can enjoy our freedoms.

Memorial Day, which was originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have sacrificed their lives for our country. New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873. Nearly a century later, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress in 1971. Today it is celebrated, throughout our country, every year on the last Monday in May.

This year, in conjunction with Memorial Day, I want to inform Central New Yorkers that veterans (living or deceased) or active military men and women may be eligible for a Conspicuous Service Star, a Conspicuous Service Cross or a Medal of Merit.

These three honors are bestowed by New York State. New York has the second highest veteran population in the United States. This is one of the many reasons why I am working with the NYS Division of Veteran's Affairs to secure these medals to honor as many veterans as possible, who honorably served their country.

To find out if you, as a veteran, or a veteran that you know of, are eligible for one of these distinguished honors, please visit my website, defrancisco.nysenate.gov, where you can find a listing of all eligibility requirements and applications for these awards.

As you celebrate this Memorial Day this year I also ask that you take a few moments to recognize, remember and appreciate all of the men and women who have put themselves in danger to protect our liberties, both past and present. I wish each and every one of you a safe and happy Memorial Day.

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