Like you, I look forward to the long Memorial Day weekend; it’s one of my favorites: The unofficial start to summer and outdoor barbecues with friends and family—just before we kick into high gear for an active field and western wildfire season.
As we anticipate this weekend’s events, let’s not lose sight of the significance of Memorial Day itself. This observance marks a day of remembrance for those who have died while serving in the United States armed forces. Though it dates to just after the Civil War, it wasn’t until after World War I that it expanded to recognize those who died in all American wars. In 1971 Congress designated it as an official national observance.
We all should be grateful we live in a country that has a day specifically set aside to remember those who gave their lives in service to our country and its citizens. President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we forget in time that men [and women] have died to win them.” Please join me in taking time this weekend to reflect on the men and women 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. By all means we should celebrate this weekend. But let’s do it in a spirit of gratitude for the freedoms that have come at a high cost for so many.
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!
Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen