Memorial Day

By Sen. Joe Hune
22nd Senate District

Memorial Day is a solemn occasion for us to remember the brave men and women in uniform who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.

Originally called “Decoration Day,” Memorial Day is set aside as a time of remembrance for those who gave their lives in defense of our nation. We started commemorating this holiday shortly after the Civil War by decorating the graves of the war dead. Surprisingly, Memorial Day didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1971.

While many people will use the holiday to spend time with friends and family and unofficially welcome summer by barbecuing in the backyard, this Memorial Day I urge you to remember those who died for our country.

You can observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials, proudly flying the American flag at half-staff until noon on your front porch, or thanking a veteran for their service.

In recognition of the sacrifices our enlisted men and women make to protect our freedom, this year federal parks officials announced that beginning Armed Forces Day (May 19), all active duty service members will be able to get a free annual pass granting them and their dependents access to more than 2,000 sites across the country, including national parks and forests.

While the pass is not available to veterans and retirees, many of these individuals are eligible for other discounted passes, such as the Senior Pass, granting lifetime access to U.S. citizens ages 62 and up for $10, and the Access Pass, granting free lifetime access for permanently disabled U.S. citizens.

For more information on the free annual pass, please visit: www.store.usgs.gov/pass/index.html.

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Sen. Joe Hune is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He represents the 22nd state Senate District, which includes Livingston and Shiawassee counties, and the southern part of Ingham County. The Ingham County portion includes Bunkerhill, Leslie, Stockbridge and Vevay townships, and the cities of Leslie and Mason.