By Angel G. Estrada
Chairman, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Memorial Day weekend can often be a rush of activity. But whether your holiday is filled with parades, ceremonies, or get-togethers with family and friends, one thing is certain. On any day of the year, there is always time to pause and remember those who died in the service of our country.

Here in Union County, honoring that sacrifice takes many shapes. One traditional reminder is the decoration of veterans’ graves with thousands of flags, provided by the County to scouts, veterans groups, and other organizations. This remembrance continues through the month of May, leading up to Memorial Day.

Communities across Union County pitch in, and new help is always welcome. To participate, contact your local American Legion post or call the Union County Office of Veterans’ Affairs toll free at 866-640-7115, or at 908-527-4809. Voice messages are returned promptly.

There is another way to remember our war dead, and that is to support their brothers and sisters in arms. It is safe to say that every community in Union County has citizens, school groups and organizations taking time throughout the year to connect with our men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From necessary items to small luxuries, packages are constantly making the long journey overseas. Every note or card makes that connection all the stronger.

Now more than ever, your support will be vitally appreciated. In a short time, 4,000 members of the New Jersey National Guard will begin deploying overseas. This is the largest mobilization of troops from our state since World War II.

At home, the need for community support still continues. Many of Union County’s returning veterans face new challenges in life. Especially at this time of year, our Office of Veterans’ Affairs is inundated with requests for help from veterans and their families.

I am proud that County residents support the work of this office. You can also help out by volunteering with or donating to other organizations that advocate for veterans in need of help, such as the Coalition for the Homeless.

Finally, remembrance can also mean a moment of private reflection. This is something that each of us can do, at any time and place.

Time stands still when you are alone with your thoughts. In an instant you can reach back through more than two hundred years of American history, and breathe a spark of life into all of those who died in the conflicts that have shaped our country.