Memorial Day 2016

Thanking and Honoring the Servicemembers who gave their all for our country. We respectfully ask that you take a moment and reflect on their service and sacrifice for us all. It is about more than barbeque and beverages.

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs offers this historical context for Memorial Day remembrances:

Originating after the Civil War as Decoration Day, a time for the nation to decorate the graves of war dead, the date of May 30th is believed to have been chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. Congress passed “The National Moment of Remembrance Act” in 2000, encouraging all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to our nation.

The agency also has a list of Memorial Day events occurring statewide (click here –Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs).

The Official State of Oregon event will occur in Salem. As part of the annual Memorial Day celebrations statewide, the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA) will host a memorial ceremony on Monday, May 30, at 2 p.m., on the department’s grounds in Salem, 700 Summer St. N.E.

A military flyover is scheduled to open the public ceremony at the Afghan-Iraqi Freedom Memorial where the names of 142 Oregonians killed while serving in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom will be read aloud by cadets from the Oregon State University ROTC program. Special guest speaker Col. Kevin Dial will deliver the keynote address.

The ceremony will also be broadcast live on ODVA’s public Facebook page ( beginning at 2:00 p.m.and available for replay thereafter.

Cascadia Disability Law is thankful for the opportunity and honored to participate in the Lines for Life telethon on Thursday May 26, 2016. This non-profit organization focuses on serving Veterans by Preventing Substance Abuse and Suicide . If you or somebody you know needs assistance, please contact them at their Lifeline:


If your means allow, please consider making a donation to this worthy organization.


Memorial Day 2016 Message from ODVA Director Cameron Smith

Never forget the true cost of war

This year will mark 150 years since the first local ceremonies decorating the graves of veterans after the end of the Civil War. This military family and community tradition was later formalized as a national day of honor in Decoration Day, and what we now call Memorial Day.

In 1866, no family or community remained untouched by the Civil War – America’s bloodiest conflict resulted in over 1 million casualties and claimed over 620,000 lives. The impacts of the war were intensely and personally felt across the nation.

Today, there are over 320,000 veterans across Oregon. We are four generations strong across 5 major wars, plus all those who stood guard over our peace and served in smaller conflicts around the world. With every veteran counted, we must also include recognition of their spouses and families who served in their own way on the home front while their veteran was in uniform.

At the same time, we must acknowledge that our nation’s battles today are fought by less than one percent of our population. The weight of the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has been borne by the few.

Most of our citizens today have not been directly impacted by the wars. The same cannot be said for our Gold Star families who have lost a loved one in service to the nation.

We must never forget the true cost of war – a cost far beyond dollars and cents. Fifty years ago in Vietnam, we lost over 58,000 dedicated service members whose names are now immortalized in polished black granite at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Across the ages, from the beaches in Europe and on Pacific islands to the mountains and jungles in Asia, countless Americans have stood up to serve and have laid down their lives. At the most basic level, they fought to protect the one on their right and the one on their left, but ultimately their fight protects us all and preserves the values we hold dear.

This Memorial Day, as we kick off the start of summer and turn to enjoy Oregon’s incredible parks, beaches, rivers and mountains, we must encourage all citizens to pause and honor our fallen and their families. We thank all veterans for their service in uniform and their continued service in using their leadership, skills and experience to enrich our communities across the state.

We must continue to share the stories of our military’s service and most importantly share the stories of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you for all of your support for Oregon veterans and God Bless all those still serving overseas.


Cameron Smith served three tours in Iraq as a Marine and is the Director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs.