By State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine
Memorial Day is an important holiday with a nearly 150 year history here in New York State. It is a time to pause and reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by so many brave men and women in defense of our way of life. This loss of life should never be forgotten and our thoughts and prayers for our Soldiers should not be limited to just one day.
Last week, in the Senate we passed a resolution to honor the more than 300 Fort Drum Soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002. Fort Drum is home to the nationâ€™s most deployed division, the 10th Mountain Division, and I know that all of us in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties understand the loss felt by the families and communities, here and throughout the nation. In honoring these Soldiers, we honor all in the armed forces, both veterans and active duty.
We are constantly reminded of the sacrifices our troops make for all of us. Just last week, we were reminded again when we learned that two more Soldiers from Fort Drum lost their lives. Their service and sacrifice, like those whose names are in this resolution, will not be forgotten. These tragedies drive home the point of how much is at stake for our Soldiers and their families, and why it is so important to commend each and every Soldier for their selfless act of service to our nation.
In addition to being a reminder of the sacrifices made to protect our freedom, Memorial Day also marks the beginning of summer, a time when families hope to enjoy warm weather and spend more time together, be it in the back yard or on vacation. This is why I have opposed from the beginning, the governorâ€™s attempt to close our parks and historic sites, which are economic engines and low cost alternatives for families looking to spend some time away from their homes.
On Friday, we passed legislation to reverse what the governor had proposed and ensure that the funding is there for our parks and historic sites to remain open all summer long for families to enjoy. I made a commitment to keeping these sites open and though it took longer than I would have liked, the bottom line is that our parks and historic sites will have the funding they need.
Closing these facilities would have cost the state more in revenue than any savings from scaling back the services. This is just one victory and it remains frustrating that a final budget agreement has not been reached, but rest assured that I continue to work with my colleagues to deliver a fair and responsible spending plan that reflects our remaining priorities for this region.