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May 28, 2004

Message from the Governor

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. It is a day set aside to offer our prayers, our thoughts, and our gratitude to the fallen, to those who gave the last full measure of devotion.

The men and women in our armed services have always answered the call. World War I. World War II. Korea. Vietnam. The Persian Gulf. Afghanistan. Iraq.

They left home knowing they might not return. And many did not return. Just a few days ago, I participated in a memorial service for Sergeant Jeffrey R. Shaver, a soldier from the Washington National Guard’s 81st Armored Brigade who died in Iraq. Just a few months before, Sergeant Shaver was among the men and women we saluted at a deployment departure ceremony held in the Tacoma Dome for the soldiers and their families.

Over the years, there have been many names for these brave men and women who gave everything. They were “GI,” “Yank,” “Flyboy,” “Leatherneck,” “Swabby,” “WACs,” “WAVES" and just plain “Joe.”

Quote of the Week
“Tragedy has a human face, and war an all too human cost.”
—Governor Locke, May 22, 2004

But here at home, we have known them by other names. Son, Daughter, Brother, Sister, Husband, Wife, Dad, Mom, Sweetheart, Friend.

At the World War II memorial on the Capitol campus near my office, there are bricks lining the walkways. On those bricks are etched the names of those who died or served. One of those bricks reads: “William C. Westlake. USMC. K I A. Age 15. Iwo Jima.”

A boy who should have been studying geometry, or learning to drive. His sacrifice is steeped in the cruelty of war. And it shames those who take our freedom for granted.

Let us never forget the many we have lost. They were from all ethnic backgrounds and religions. Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Pacific-Americans, and Native Americans; Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Muslims. People who have faced discrimination at home but have answered the call of duty to protect our freedom.

They went because they believed in the goodness and destiny of our nation. Many died for that belief.

My own father, Jimmy Locke, was a staff sergeant in World War II. He was among the many who went ashore on the beaches of Normandy. Growing up, I was taught that freedom sometimes comes at a high price. I am thankful for those lessons.

On Memorial Day, we will honor those who paid the ultimate price. With love of country in their hearts and courage in their souls, they entered the valley of death. For all of us. Let us never forget their sacrifice.

Gary Locke
Gary Locke

Governor’s Priorities
News Highlights

Bellevue Readers Rule
Governor Locke and Terry Bergeson, state superintendent of public instruction, recently presented Stevenson Elementary School in Bellevue with the “Reading School of the Month” award for May 2004. “No matter what you want to do in life, you have to start by being a good reader,” the Governor told the students. “Reading is the key to all academic success. I am so proud of all the progress Stevenson students have made in reading. You definitely deserve this honor.” Stevenson Elementary is a diverse school with about 30 different languages spoken by its students. Fifty-two percent of its students speak a first language other than English. Even with the language challenges, the school has made great strides in reading. Its fourth graders scored above the state average percentages in reading, writing and mathematics on the 2003 Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). Stevenson is also a Washington Reading Corps school, and 44 percent of its students participate in the state’s free or reduced price lunch program.

Governor Locke also promoted his 2004 Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge, which begins in June. He is encouraging all Washington state residents under the age of 18 to read 15 hours or more by Labor Day (Sept. 6) and report their success by Sept. 18. Students can participate through any summer reading program or by reading on their own. Each student who meets the challenge will receive a signed certificate from the Governor and be eligible for a trip for four to Disneyland.

Ferry System Reducing Pollution
Gov. Locke at Clean Fuel Initiatives News Conference Governor Locke unveiled new clean fuel initiatives by the Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Ferries on May 21. “The Clean Fuels Initiative is an important program to address air pollution in the Puget Sound region and a key component of our efforts to reduce our contribution to global warming,” the Governor said. The Governor announced that Washington State Ferries will switch the entire ferry fleet to low-sulfur diesel fuel, test ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, and test biodiesel fuel. These steps will improve air quality by reducing the amount of harmful substances in the ferries' diesel fuel exhaust. The ferry system also has upgraded to more-efficient engines and made operational changes that reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Efforts to further improve fuel efficiency will continue.

Safe Kids in Healthy Families
The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) recently launched the next phase of Washington’s long-term child welfare reform: Kids Come First, Phase II: Safe Kids in Healthy Families. The Kids Come First Action Agenda was launched in 2000 to reform Washington’s child welfare system. “Keeping children in safe, stable and healthy families and preserving their connection to family members, schools and the community remains an urgent priority,” Governor Locke said. “I'm pleased to see DSHS moving forward and demonstrating a commitment to continually improve our child and family services.” Kids Come First, Phase II, responds to the federal government's assessment in the Child and Family Services Review. It serves as a blueprint for improving children and family services over the next six to eight years.

More Green for Green Projects
The state of Washington recently received $852,000 in challenge cost-share grants to support three cooperative conservation projects. These projects include restoring wetland plant communities at Ross Lake and revegetating areas of Mount Rainier National Park. “These funds will make a big difference in helping us make progress on these important projects,” Governor Locke said. Partners will contribute $1.25 million in matching contributions to the three Washington projects, bringing the total for the state to $2.1 million. For example, the National Park Service is awarding $29,000 to revegetate Sunrise Campground and Paradise Meadows at Mount Rainier National Park. Volunteers in Parks, the Washington Native Plant Society, Boeing Management Group, Earth Corps, Rogers High School and other school volunteers are also contributing $29,000 to the project.

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