This year we had a long and cold winter season. As such, I know we are all looking forward to a warm and fun summer, kicking it off this Memorial Weekend. Thinking of upcoming swim trips and future outdoor barbecues with friends is enough to bring a smile to my face. However, for us in the Forest Service we also understand that the unofficial start of summer also marks the turning point where we kick into high gear and get ready for more wildfires.
So, before the grill starts sizzling and the water starts splashing, let’s not lose sight of the significance of Memorial Day itself. On this day we remember those who died while serving in the United States armed forces. This observance dates to just after the Civil War. However, it wasn’t until after World War I that it expanded to recognize those who died in all American wars. Finally, Congress designated it as an official national observance in 1971.
Please join me in taking time this weekend to reflect on the members of the armed forces who have given their lives in defense of our freedom and democracy. Let us honor their sacrifice daily through our own dedication to public service.
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 well. As we celebrate this weekend, let’s do it in a spirit of gratitude for the freedoms that have come at a high cost for so many. Additionally, I want to extend my thanks to all those employees who will be working on our behalf this weekend. They will serve to ensure visitors enjoy safe and memorable experiences on national forests and grasslands while caring for the health of our natural resources.
Beyond our day of remembrance, this upcoming holiday weekend offers us the opportunity to get outside. In addition to pools opening in neighborhoods, parks and recreation centers, our national forests and grasslands offer amazing recreation opportunities, such as trails, campgrounds, picnic areas and lakes. However you choose to enjoy time with your family and friends, please be mindful of your own safety, as well as the safety of others. And let that mindfulness for safety continue as you return to work and begin what we expect to be an active summer season.
Enjoy your holiday weekend!
Chief Vicki Christiansen