STATE REPRESENTATIVE
PAUL C. CASEY

Room 473-B
State House
Boston, MA 02133
Telephone: (617) 722-2230
District Office
585A Main St.
Winchester, MA 01890
Telephone: (617) 721-7285 or (617) 438-7185

A View from the Hill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 25, 1999
CONTACT: Erica Quigley (617) 722-2240

REFLECTING ON OUR NATION'S HEROES

This Monday, we take time to observe and honor the lives of the people who fought to preserve the peace, freedom and prosperity of this great nation many years ago. The battles we won with the courage and determination of our past soldiers transformed this country into a world leader, determined in our resolve to bring world peace. Even today, we find ourselves fighting to subdue genocide in favor of peaceful coexistence and toleration. To that extent, we must also take time this Memorial Day to reflect upon the recent events currently taking place in Kosovo. The United States has thousands of young men and women who are protecting the rights and lives of millions of faceless Kosovar refugees bearing the widespread atrocities of ethnic cleansing. Their humanitarian efforts will hopefully restore peace and justice in the Balkans and, with God speed, bring home our brave soldiers.

Now, with Memorial Day upon us, it is our time to remember our fallen sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, husbands and wives, of past and present, for their contributions to the world they left behind, while the legacy of those who survived the battle and came home, is also honored. It is a day which leaves few hearts unmoved in remembering the more than one million brave Americans who have given their lives in the defense of freedom and democracy. The unshakable dedication to freedom and the faith that "right" would prevail, gave these men and women the courage to keep fighting against enormous odds. It is because of our veterans and their commitment to democracy that the United States is a mighty and free nation today.

If we have learned anything from the past, it is that Americans will bear any hardship, will overcome any obstacle and will conquer any foe in the pursuit of liberty and justice, for themselves, their children and their countrymen. While our soldiers knew fear, they pressed forward, not just once, but many times, against enemy bullets, bombs and blades. These Americans pressed forward, knowing that death was imminent with a resolve and bravery beyond our comprehension. We cannot know if they understood at that moment, the larger reason behind their resolution and courage. Nor, if they would have been able to tell us, why they did what they did. But, we do know that the belief that sustained them was greater than America herself.

Even as we look back to remember yesterday's fallen heroes, feeling pride and patriotism, we also look to the future. The challenges of the future will not be any easier than those of the past. As Chairman of the Committee on Public Service, and former vice-chair for the Special Commission on Veterans' Affairs, I have stood behind legislation that looks to the future to recognize and reward our disabled and deceased veterans of the Commonwealth. Last session, I co-sponsored an amendment to the Massachusetts General Laws that increased the property tax abatement to $250 for those disabled veterans who have received honorable discharges. In addition, veterans who are given a disability rating of 100% receive a $600 tax exemption, and paraplegic veterans receive a total exemption for their property taxes.

As Chairman of the Committee on Public Service, I have the unique opportunity to consider legislation affecting veterans who continued to serve our nation as public employees. The Committee has before it this session several bills affecting veterans, including H.2782: An Act Relative to Increasing Veteran's Benefits, which we are carefully reviewing. H.2782, which we passed favorably out of committee last week, would provide an additional yearly retirement allowance of $15 for each year of creditable service, not exceeding $300, effectively doubling the current allowance for a total of $30 per year, not to exceed $600. Such an increase is a much deserved reward for the thousands of veterans in Commonwealth who gave their time, devotion and lives to their country.

Memorial Day is our day to pause and through its commemoration, to honor all of America's patriots. And now, with our troops in foreign land, air and sea, Memorial Day takes on a more immediate tone as our thoughts and prayers are consumed with them as they protect the innocent abroad. We can never repay the debt we owe these brave men and women, yet we can strive to honor their vision which led them into battle and to their ultimate sacrifice. We must uphold the memories of their heroism, with respect, with reverence and with our heartfelt admiration. Those who died on the field of battle deserve our perpetual contemplation. In honoring them today, we recognize their dedication, courage and sacrifice. In peacetime and in war, these Americans answered our nation's call, defended the American way of life, and gave us freedom.

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