It is a tradition, a ritual even, that on Memorial Day, we say, “never forget.” It is brandished in the stark pledge of “you are not forgotten” on the black and white POW/MIA flag, first flown among veterans after the Vietnam War to call attention to American prisoners of war and missing in action. That flag, like the words, are now universal for honoring the memory and sacrifice of all men and women in our wars, the living and the dead.
We “remember” in many different ways, especially on this holiday, but the greatest manifestation of that recognition, the persistence in “never forgetting,” came last week when the Senate came to a bipartisan agreement over sweeping measures that will finally give veterans suffering from toxic exposures broad, unrestricted access to health care and disability assistance.
The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (or PACT Act) passed the House in March. Republicans, staring at the $200 billion (over 10 years) price tag, had initially resisted. Then on Thursday, Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) announced that they believed a new, and actually bigger bill than the House version, could pass Congress.