Let's Continue To Remember Our Veterans, Servicemen And Women And Their Families Throughout The Holidays And Every Day

Our nation recently celebrated Veterans Day, as we rightfully paused to take a day to honor our veterans who have fought to protect us and the freedoms we cherish. I had the great privilege to participate in several of these events throughout Steuben and Yates counties on Veterans Day. I would like to take a minute to reflect back on this day, which for me personally, was both an incredible and emotional day.

To see so many people, young and old, throughout this region come together to pay such a special tribute to these brave men and women, many of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe, was an experience I will never forget.

I am often asked to speak at different events throughout the district. Usually, I am pretty comfortable with speaking in public. However, Veterans Day was a very different experience for me. I found I was very nervous to speak and became increasingly emotional as the day went on. I believe the biggest reason for my nervousness was, first of all, because I was in such awe and appreciation of what our veterans and brave servicemen and women have done and sacrificed for all of us, our families, our communities, our state and our country. Second, I knew there were no words I could ever say that could do justice to convey the deepest gratitude and thanks to all of these incredible heroes; gratitude and thanks they so very much deserve.

So as we remembered, gave thanks and prayed for our veterans and heroic men and women who are currently serving, I also could not help but think about the many families whose loved ones are away from home serving in a foreign land, or the many families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice with the loss of a loved one who gave their life to keep us safe at home. I thought about the mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters and other family members who have suffered such a devastating loss.

After reflecting back, I began to look ahead. Although the most recent Veterans Day has passed us by, and as we all look toward Thanksgiving and the very busy upcoming holiday season with our families, I would like to ask all of us to take a moment to pause and remember to say a prayer for our veterans and servicemen and women, along with their families. And if you can, please try to take some time to continue to show your appreciation and thanks to these heroes throughout the entire year, especially this holiday season.

If you are wondering, "What can I do?" you can do many different things. It does not have to be anything big, just a little gesture to say "Thank you," or "We are thinking of you." Stop in and visit a veteran in his or her home who might live in your neighborhood or town. Take some time to volunteer or visit our veterans at the Bath or Canandaigua VA facilities. Teachers and students can make and send Christmas cards or care packages to our veterans in the VA. Or any one of us could just simply walk up to one of our many heroic men and women in uniform, whether you are on the street, in a store or at the airport, and just say to them, "Thank you for your service and for keeping us safe." Why are these little gestures important to remember? Because these brave men and women have and will continue to lay down their lives to protect you and your family.

So, as we all gather with our families around the table this holiday season, let us not forget that there will be some empty seats this year around many tables across our region and country. Let us continue to keep these brave servicemen and women and their families in our thoughts and prayers. And let us always remember, each and every day throughout the year, to stop, take pause, pray and give thanks to our veterans, our servicemen and women and all of their families for the sacrifices they have and will continue to endure to protect us, our families and our freedoms.

Wishing you and your family a very safe and happy holiday season.