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"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." -Mahatma Gandhi

"If you really want to receive joy and happiness, then serve others with all your heart. Lift their burden, and your own burden will be lighter." -Ezra Taft Benson

MASCA MEMBERS

A Message from MASCA  President Paul Lagana 5/22/20

Memorial Day is a somber day of reflection. It is a time to remember those men and women who helped to protect our freedom, and never had the chance to step off of the battlefield. This holiday is a privilege we enjoy thanks to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, generation after generation.

For many Americans, Memorial Day also marks the unofficial start of summer. It is a well-earned day off a day to spend precious time with friends and family, and maybe even fire up the grill. For many of our members though, it is another day on the job as they remain working behind the wall.

This year, Memorial Day looks a little bit different than in previous years. We will not be taking part in remembrance ceremonies, watching parades, or enjoying fireworks with our friends and families. I enjoy these traditions as much as the next person, but some of the celebrations often make it easy to lose sight of what the day is truly about.

We are, I think, fortunate in some ways to have a single year where, as a nation, our heads are not turned the other way heeding distractions, instead of remembering the significance of what the day means to those who sacrificed, those who served alongside them, and the families who survived them.

Memorial Day is about the selfless sacrifice of American heroes who raised their right hands to say it is I who will defend America, and if needed, lay down my life for my country. That debt has been paid time and again in the name of all Americans, so that we may continue to enjoy lifes most treasured moments each and every day. And for too many American families, the absence of a loved one is a pain that lasts a lifetime.

For many veterans, particularly we who are affiliated with MASCA, Memorial Day is also a time we remember those who sacrificed for our nation, who were forever changed, and whose lives were cut short as a result of that service.

One astonishing fact of military service is that heroes walk among us in our MASCA Community. They are our titans or the NY Yankees in our communities. I encourage you to seek out and learn the stories of your own hometown heroes.

Please join me in recognizing those among us who have lost a family member to military service. We cannot begin to imagine the magnitude of your loss. The sacrifices that you have endured, and continue to endure, are a testament to your courage, strength and resiliency in the face of tragedy.

Many communities honor the fallen throughout the year by ensuring their survivors get a proper welcome home. It is also important to recognize those who did not wear the uniform, but who contributed through volunteerism for our Vets, and other selfless ways that honor our fallen brothers and sisters.

The men and women who answer freedoms call are remarkable people. They train as a team, and fight like family. They have each others backs, no matter how dire the circumstances. So, let us be sure that we have their backs. It is especially important, during this time of isolation and uncertainty, that we honor the legacy of those lost by caring for those left behind.

The pain of loss is, at times, unbearable. Grief is a complicated emotion, manifesting in different ways for each of us. But it almost always helps to share that grief rather than keep it inside and let it turn our minds and souls bitter and angry.

Sometimes just sitting down to engage with veterans and their family members can go a long way. Calls, e-mails, reaching out through social media. Whatever you choose, keep connecting. I encourage all of you to find ways to involve yourself in caring for those who bear physical, emotional, and psychological scars of war, and even stress from the occupation we choose.

I personally want to thank you for thinking of veterans today and for helping to honor the fallen. I also challenge you to keep our fighting men and women in the front of your minds, today and every day. Thank you.

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MASCA is a non-profit organization comprised of members from CT, DE, MD, NJ, PA, NY, and DC. It is a professional organization for those involved in court administration, juvenile justice, probation and parole, institutional and community corrections as well as for citizens with a vital interest in the juvenile and criminal justice fields.