SPOKANE, Wash. — Memorial Day honors American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrificed for their country.
The day originally honored the roughly 620,000 Americans who died in the Civil War – making it the deadliest war in American history. It was celebrated on May 30 for decades before Congress established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May and a federal holiday.
President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act on Dec. 28, 2000, designating 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day as a National Moment of Remembrance.
On Monday, lawmakers from Washington state and Idaho are sharing tributes and messages of gratitude for our fallen heroes.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R- WA 5th District) shared a passage from the Bible as she remembered fallen veterans.
“The Holy Scriptures tell us ‘Greater love hath no man than this, but that he lay down his life for his friend,’” she wrote. “The men and women we remember today on #MemorialDay lived out those words. They gave their last full measure of devotion for our country and our Freedom.”
On Twitter, Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) shared his statewide order to fly flags at half-staff to honor fallen veterans with a message of support.
"There's no greater service than to risk one's life to protect what we hold dear as a nation,” he wrote. “This Memorial Day, I’ve ordered flags at half-staff to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We think of them as we spend time with friends and family this holiday.
He and his wife also offered his sympathy for Washington residents who have lost the service members in their lives.
“Trudi and I offer our condolences to all those Washingtonians who have lost service members and keep in our hearts all those who continue to serve their country,” Inslee wrote. “Today we honor and remember the cost of the freedom we all enjoy.”
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) also thanked veterans for their service and encouraged people to remember those who lost their lives.
"This #MemorialDay, let's take time to remember & honor the brave women & men who lost their lives fighting to defend our freedoms,” she wrote. “To the brave servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our nation—we remember you, & we thank you for your courageous service.”
Idaho’s governor also shared a message on Memorial Day.
“Thank you to all who have sacrificed for this great nation!” Gov. Brad Little (R-Idaho) wrote.
“Let us honor and remember our brave soldiers. Thank you for your service and sacrifice,” an accompanying photo caption reads.
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) recently introduced legislation to address veteran suicide by expanding access to mental health services for veterans. The SERVICE Act would remove time limits on combat veterans’ eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs mental health services.
Under current law, veterans who seek VA care for more than five years after their discharge must prove the health issue for which they are seeking care is directly connected to their service.
The legislation would remove time limits by allowing all combat veterans to seek treatment for service-connected mental illnesses, regardless of when their condition presents itself.
“The rate of veteran suicide in Idaho is alarmingly high compared to the general population and even exceeds that of the national veteran population,” Crapo said on Thursday. “The women and men who have bravely served our nation in uniform deserve comprehensive services that support their return to civilian life, including mental health."
He tweeted about the legislation a day ahead of Memorial Day, writing, “Idaho veterans suicides were almost double that of general Idaho population suicides.