COLUMN: The Stories We Must Remember

May 27, 2019
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

On Memorial Day, we honor our nation’s servicemembers who have given the ultimate sacrifice. We surround their families and loved ones with prayers and support. We lay flowers on memorials, make visits to monuments, and we pay tribute to their service by lowering our flags to half-mast. While it may be easy to associate Memorial Day weekend with barbeques, a day off from work or school, and the start of summer, we cannot forget that there is a reason we observe this day – and each of them have a story.

Our military members have fought and died defending our freedom and securing our liberty, and they deserve all the recognition in the world. From flag ceremonies and prayer services to school assemblies and government proclamations, there are many ways we can outwardly show our gratitude for our military members who died in service to our country.

Earlier this year, it was an honor to dedicate the Sergeant Dietrich Schmieman Post Office Building in West Richland, which was named to memorialize Sergeant Schmieman’s service for the community for years to come. His parents shared touching stories from Dietrich’s childhood and from the journal he kept while away at training and while serving as a Marine at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. These are the stories we must remember.

These brave men and women dedicated their lives to our country, and they all had an individual reason or motivation to serve. Our nation’s military is diverse, and our country’s history is rich. These soldiers of our Armed Forces all have unique and riveting accounts of their service – many of which have been passed down through the generations.  

In order to help civilians better understand what our military members and their families go through, I have partnered with the Library of Congress to memorialize their stories through the Veterans History Project. Veterans, relatives, friends, and – sometimes – even acquaintances have insight into lives of soldiers.

I believe that while these brave men and women are gone, they are never forgotten, and I am working to make sure that truly is the case. The stories we receive from and about veterans and service members in Central Washington will be permanently archived and preserved in our nation’s largest library for all Americans to access on any day of the year. I can’t think of a better way to memorialize their sacrifice.

For some families, every day is Memorial Day. They remember their loved ones who have passed and honor them in their own ways. I want to help keep your memories alive. I encourage families with stories to tell to contact my office and share their memories for the Veterans History Project.

Individuals interested in participating in the Veterans History Project are encouraged to contact Rep. Newhouse’s Yakima District Office at (509) 452-3243.