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By Congressman Mike Levin

This past Memorial Day, those of us who are vaccinated were able to safely gather again with friends and family, returning to all of the traditions that we cherish.

While the day marked a new milestone in the pandemic—a sense of normalcy as we begin the summer—it’s important for us to remember what Memorial Day really means. The veterans honored in South Orange County continue to remind us of the service and sacrifices that have been made for our country.

I had the opportunity to join members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 9934 in Dana Point, and was especially honored to meet veterans from World War II who were in attendance. I was proud to speak with them about my grandpa, Ted Levin, who served in that war as a gunner with the 867th Bomb Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Forces.

Grandpa Ted passed away several years ago, but his influence is with me every day I serve in Congress. Meeting with veterans of my grandpa’s generation—the Greatest Generation—was a reminder that he would be disappointed by much about today’s politics.

While he was a committed Democrat, he didn’t vilify his Republican friends and neighbors. He would have honest discussions about the issues of the day without resorting to name-calling or conspiracy peddling.

He’d want me to avoid partisanship for its own sake and focus on the core responsibilities of my job. And that’s what I’ve tried to do. As I’ve said often, my name may be on the door, but this office belongs to the people I serve—Republicans, Democrats, independents, and everyone else.

That’s why I’ve tried to remain as accessible and transparent as possible, and why I’ve held a public town hall at least once a month—so that any constituent can come and ask me any question they want.

I’ve also strived to provide the best possible constituent services. Any constituent can call our office and get one-on-one assistance with federal programs. We’ve been able to help dozens of veterans and military families get the benefits they have earned.

We recently helped a local constituent restore and increase his mother’s VA benefits. We helped another military family secure child care while one parent was deployed overseas and the other was a mission essential military member.

These may seem like small accomplishments—it’s certainly not the type of work that creates flashy headlines—but this is the type of public service my grandpa taught me to appreciate, and it’s the kind of public service the veterans in Dana Point reminded me of this past Memorial Day.

They represent the best of our country, and they continue to teach us what it means to serve our nation and protect our shared values. I’ll continue to think of them and my Grandpa Ted every day that I have the honor to represent our community in Congress.

U.S. Representative Mike Levin represents the 49th Congressional District, which includes the South Orange County cities of Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. He was reelected for a second term in 2020 and resides in San Juan Capistrano with his wife and two children.

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