Memorial Day, which this year will be celebrated on Monday, May 31, is a day of remembrance and reverence for those who have died defending our nation and the values we hold sacred – liberty, courage and duty to one’s country.

Memorial Day, which this year will be celebrated on Monday, May 31, is a day of remembrance and reverence for those who have died defending our nation and the values we hold sacred – liberty, courage and duty to one’s country. On this day in particular, it is important that we reflect on the sacrifice of every member of our armed services – from those who spent months and years away from home and family to those who, in Lincoln’s words, gave “the last full measure of devotion” for the nation.

This session, lawmakers were privileged to have a special group of around 100 Missouri veterans visit the Capitol in Jefferson City. These courageous individuals are part of an elite but dwindling group, who served during one of the country’s darkest hours, the Second World War.

In April, they came together after participating in the Honor Flight program, which transports veterans free of charge to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect at the nation’s impressive war memorials. Currently, the non-profit organization, which has seven regional hubs in Missouri, is focusing on getting as many World War II veterans to the nation’s capital as possible.

Just this week, nearly 70 Missouri veterans made this special pilgrimage. Overall, approximately 500 veterans from our state have been able to see the memorials that pay them tribute via the Honor Flight program.

Of the more than 430,000 Missourians who served in World War II, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs projects that in 2010, only around 38,000 will still be living. This Memorial Day it is especially fitting that we take the opportunity to honor these aging heroes and show them our gratitude, respect and admiration.

On Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time, our nation observes a universal National Moment of Remembrance. I encourage you, wherever you are, to pause for a moment to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day and the sacrifices made by all of America’s veterans from each generation to secure freedom for all.

If you have any comments or questions about this week’s column or any other matter involving state government, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can reach my office by e-mail at matt_bartle@senate.mo.gov or by phone at 888-711-9278.