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Honoring fallen heroes

May 26, 2010 | 07:50 AM
Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May, commemorates the men and women of the Armed Services who died while serving our country. While some may view the day as simply the beginning of summer, we must not lose sight of the true meaning and purpose of Memorial Day. In the Legislature, we also honor our military personnel through a "Fallen Solider" ceremony, and it gave me great pride to craft the protocol for this ceremony in 2005, along with the current Senate President.

The procedure ensures the State Senate appropriately honors and remembers Wisconsin's heroes who have fought for our country and made the ultimate sacrifice in a manner that is consistent and dignified for both Legislators and families. It applies to resolutions honoring deceased military personnel, as well as law enforcement officers and firefighters. When the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs notifies the Senate that a member of the Armed Forces has been killed in the line of duty, a Senate resolution honoring their service is drafted. Such resolutions and corresponding ceremonies are offered only if the family of the soldier approves.

The Senate notifies the family of the intent to honor the deceased and makes arrangements for them to attend the Wisconsin Fallen Heroes presentation in Madison. During the ceremony, family members are typically escorted to the Senate floor for the reading of the Resolution, which is then followed by all Senators rising for a moment of silence, as the resolution is adopted. If the family is unable or unwilling to attend the ceremony, a citation of the resolution is delivered to the family. The resolutions honoring members of the Armed Forces are forwarded to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum for permanent archiving, where they remain accessible for family and visitors.

The Senate "Fallen Soldier" ceremony is more than just formal resolutions and solemn words. It is the acknowledgement by the state's senators, who represent more than five million Wisconsin residents, that one of our citizens has answered the call of duty and paid the ultimate price for our right to serve in this House. The freedom we enjoy to express our First Amendment rights to engage in the purest form of representative democracy on the floor of the Senate is preserved by each man or woman who wears the uniform and takes an oath to support and defend our constitutional right to do so.

Memorial Day events pay tribute to the citizen warriors who defended, and continue to defend, our freedoms. I hope you and your family take time to honor them in your own way, perhaps by visiting a cemetery and placing flags or flowers on veterans' graves, visiting a War Memorial, attending a parade in tribute of our fallen heroes, or wearing a red poppy, the traditional symbol for the observance of Memorial Day. Remember who they are, and remember what they did for our state and great nation.

Kedzie can be reached in Madison at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI, 53707-7882, or by calling toll-free (800) 578-1457. He may be reached in the district at (262) 742-2025 or online at www.senatorkedzie.com.

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Walworth County