Rep. Peter Abbarno: Memorial Day Speech 2023

The following is a transcript of a speech delivered by Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, on May 25 at a Memorial Day event in Centralia hosted by the Centralia College Veterans Center.

“Today, as we gather here at Centralia College, we not only come together to commemorate Memorial Day but to acknowledge the historical significance of this institution for our veterans, gold star families, and the importance Centralia College continues plays in preparing our community members and members of the military.

“For instance, Centralia College played an important role in World War II, and It’s important we remember and honor the contributions of this college community during those challenging times and the challenges we face today and in the future.

“During World War II, Centralia College became a beacon of hope and opportunity for many individuals who looked to serve their country or acquire the skills necessary to support the war effort.

“Centralia College served as a training ground, equipping men and women with the knowledge and skills needed for their roles in the military and various related industries.

“The college offered courses such as a civilian pilot training program, training courses for radio technicians, and the ground school training program for Navy pilots.

“Centralia College also urges students to enlist in the military reserves and continue their education until called into active service. Students and faculty members bought war stamps and bonds, gave blood, and staffed an observation post in the middle of Noble Field to watch for potential enemy planes.

“It’s crucial that we remember the sacrifices made by the Centralia College community during that time. Students, faculty, and staff left behind their studies, careers, and families to serve their nation. Many of them never returned, giving their lives in the pursuit of freedom and peace.

“Many left behind families that continued their education and careers right here, never forgetting those that paved the way for that opportunity.

“Today, we honor their memory and express our deepest gratitude for their sacrifices.

“It is a beautiful day to be in Centralia, to be in Washington and to be in America. To be able to openly share our differing opinions and to welcome constructive debate is exactly what sets America apart from so many other countries.

“Those fundamental tenants are what our veterans fought for, continue to fight for, and for some, gave the ultimate sacrifice for.

“As we pay tribute to the fallen American Heroes from Centralia and beyond, and all those who have shared and lost their loved ones to the honor of service, let us also recognize the importance of education in preserving their memory.

“Centralia College stands as a testament to the enduring power of education to inspire, transform, and shape the lives of individuals who go on to make a difference in their communities and the world.

“On this Memorial Day, let us remember the sacrifices of the Centralia College community during times of war. May their bravery and dedication serve as an inspiration to us all. Let us carry their legacy forward by embodying the values they fought for—freedom, justice, and the pursuit of knowledge.”