Memorial Day and the meaning of sacrifice


Memorial Day observance last year at Loma Vista Cemetery in Fullerton.


Dear OCEA member,

Our national holidays can provide you, me, and every American an opportunity to put aside our differences and remember those things that bind us together as a nation. Even as our country stands divided in one of the most politically polarized environments since the 1960s, we can all stand together to honor and respect the sacrifices made by so many to preserve our American values and keep our country safe.

Union members have a historic bond with veterans. Many of our modern trade unions were founded by war veterans who returned home and then banded together for the collective power to win fair pay and good benefits. Generations of veterans have renewed that bond. After serving their country, many have joined the ranks of public servants working for the County, Courts, cities and special districts. 

Many of you have participated in honoring our military veterans by attending our Veterans Day celebrations at the OC Fair & Event Center. The 2019 celebration marked the 7th anniversary of these successful events and included a food drive for veterans in need and their families. Time will tell if we are able to celebrate Veterans Day this year in the traditional manner.

As you enjoy the time with your family, we can also take a moment to think about the sacrifices made on a different battlefield against COVID-19. On May 12th, nurses from the union National Nurses United (NNU) hosted a streamed, Facebook Live candlelight vigil to honor the more than 100 nurses who have lost their lives to COVID-19 while fighting for the safe care of their patients. These are the heroes among us. 

The working families represented by the Orange County Employees Association have inspired me throughout this national health crisis. OCEA-represented social workers, public health nurses, and many others, stepped up to perform their essential duties while lacking adequate protective equipment. The higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and perhaps spreading it to their families and vulnerable loved ones weighs heavily on their strong, capable shoulders. Thanks to all of you and your coworkers for standing together to demand safety, stability and security in the workplace. 

On Memorial Day, let's reflect on the nature of sacrifice which is to offer something up for a higher purpose. Our military is comprised of volunteers who signed up knowing the decision could cost them their lives. It’s quite possible the sacrifices made by our workers have saved thousands of lives. There can be no higher purpose than that. On a day like Memorial Day, when we think about those who gave all, let’s also remember our fellow workers and honor their sacrifices as well.

In Solidarity,

Lezlee Neebe
OCEA President

Publication Date: May 25, 2020