On May 25, our nation observed Memorial Day. While celebrations and tributes this year looked different, the incredible sacrifice our fallen heroes made cannot be forgotten.
On Memorial Day, I think a great deal about my family. They have been a source of motivation and inspiration. My two grandfathers served in World War II and my grandmother worked to support our troops abroad and help Americans at home. They exemplified the value of service to others, which I have always sought to emulate.
This last week, my Democratic colleagues in the Senate elected me to serve as the Senate majority leader. As I step into this role, I will emulate the example set forth by my family. The Senate Democrats and I will show up to work every day with that in mind, and with a goal addressing systemic inequities on the road to recovery.
I am keenly aware of the unique and challenging times we are facing, and I am dedicated to ensuring our state reaches the other side of this crisis stronger than ever.
While our state is eager to get back to work and get our children back in school, getting through this emergency will take a thoughtful approach. It will take collaboration and persistence, as well as a focus on public health and safety. I know it won't be easy.
Generations before us exemplified resilience through crisis. Following the Great Depression, the Greatest Generation emerged with a sense of collective purpose. That purpose was forged in the effort to recover from economic disaster, when innovation became necessity. Leaders launched an array of creative programs, and communities came together like never before.
In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, it is clear we must again look to innovate.
We cannot deny that COVID-19 has made social inequities more apparent, as historically marginalized and underserved communities have seen daily struggles exacerbated. In addition, this crisis has exposed weaknesses in our safety net. As we rebuild, we must bolster that safety net, and ensure it can support those who are experiencing the greatest economic strife.
I am grateful that Oregonians across the state have shown a willingness to adapt to a new reality, to look out for our neighbors, support frontline workers and protect the most vulnerable among us. As we continue Oregon's reopening, I am confident those values will continue to guide us.
Oregon's economists have been clear that mitigating the spread of the virus is crucial to our economic recovery. We must move forward thoughtfully and follow public health recommendations. It's on all of us to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections.
While the COVID-19 crisis will shape many tough budget and policy decisions, we will focus on the broad ways we can address the needs of our most vulnerable. Taking care of Oregonians across the state will take a collective effort. I am proud to lead the Senate Democrats in this work and I am grateful for their trust in me.
Thank you to my predecessor, Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, who has provided great mentorship and friendship. Thank you to my community for your support. Thank you to my family for the endless inspiration and motivation.
Rob Wagner is majority leader of the Oregon Senate. He has represented Senate District 19 since 2018, including Lake Oswego, Tualatin, West Linn, Durham, Rivergrove, Stafford and parts of Southwest Portland. A Democrat, he lives in Lake Oswego.
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