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Memorial Day 2021: We remember the service members who sacrificed for our freedoms

Cheif Christiansen
Chief Vicki Christiansen, USDA Forest Service

As we head into this long-anticipated, three-day weekend, I know many of you are feeling the excitement of possibly having our first major celebrations with friends and family since the pandemic began. Historically, Memorial Day weekend is viewed as the unofficial start of summer. After more than a year in relative isolation from one another, and with the hope brought by the vaccines and the coronavirus numbers reducing, we are all feeling optimistic that things are starting to move in the right direction.

However, it is important that we do not lose sight of what Memorial Day is really about – remembering the members of the armed forces who gave their lives in service to this country. The loss of one's life in service to the country is the highest sacrifice a member of the armed forces can make. Giving our time and talents to a cause bigger than ourselves is a principle we embrace each day as public servants and is certainly something we have all come to experience more clearly throughout this pandemic.

Please join me in taking time this weekend to reflect on and show respect for those who gave their lives in defense of our freedom and democracy. Let us honor their sacrifice daily through our own dedication to public service.

I also want to take this opportunity to recognize our many employees—our fire, law enforcement, recreation, IT, radio operators, and other employees—who will continue working on the front lines throughout the weekend. You will be out there displaying our core value of service to the American people.

In the Forest Service, we contribute our time and talents to a cause greater than ourselves—the stewardship of our nation’s forests and grasslands and service to all citizens. Military members do the same—giving their lives, if necessary, to support the defense and security of this nation. Many of us have been directly touched by the loss of loved ones who died in military service. Our thoughts are with you.

As you get together this weekend in whatever form your gathering takes, I ask you to do so in a spirit of gratitude for the freedoms you enjoy that have come at a high cost for so many.

And please remember, if you’re recreating, recreate safely. Summer activities bring a whole new set of dangers, so just be mindful of that, and come back on Tuesday, refreshed and ready to dive back into service.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.