05-21-2020 Letters and Commentary

A day to remember

It is strange. Time under quarantine both seems to stand still and race on like never before. Either way you look at it, it is hard to believe that we have reached Memorial Day weekend. The first national celebration of Memorial Day, which was originally called Decoration Day, was held at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868. In the ensuing 152 years, we as a state and nation have observed this time of remembrance through times of peace, war, economic strife, and, like this year, health crises. No matter the circumstance, our country has and always will take time to honor and remember the lives sacrificed in preservation of liberty and national defense. Though most of us have never served in the military, we often hear stories of the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood that are formed in the service and especially during combat. They say that war distills the senses. Things that don’t matter wash away, and all that matters is the essential — the person to the left and the person to the right. These unshakeable relationships that are fostered and strengthened are unique in that they occur between people who, in the course of civilian life, may not have ever met or become friends. We see these friendships lived out when, for example, survivors of Pearl Harbor or D-Day, though weathered by time and frail from age and, perhaps, injury, travel great distances to visit the graves of their brothers in Honolulu and Normandy to honor and remember them. Most of us have not experienced such a bond, but we can try to understand what that is like. And while what we are currently experiencing under this pandemic is certainly not the same, it is a common shared experience that I pray bring us closer together as fellow Michiganders and countrymen and women. Due to the many stay-home orders throughout the country, communities’ Memorial Day services have had to shift to online observations.

The annual National Memorial Day Concert will air at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 24 on your local PBS affiliate. The National WWI Museum and Memorial will present a schedule of free online streams beginning Monday, May 25 at 10 a.m. CDT. The National Veterans Memorial and Museum will conduct its Memorial Day remembrance ceremony beginning Monday at 10 a.m. EDT. The National D-Day Memorial will conduct a virtual Memorial Day event starting Monday at 11 a.m. EDT. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial will hold an online Memorial Day commemoration beginning Monday at 1 p.m. EDT. In some ways the altered scheduling is a blessing, as it will open up numerous services from around the country to be observed free at home. Speaking of home, there are numerous ways we can celebrate Memorial Day in our own neighborhoods, such as flying the American flag, and decorating our homes in patriotic colors, with flowers, bunting and chalk art, for example. This will be a Memorial Day to remember, and however you choose to honor our fallen servicemen and women, I hope that it is an occasion that brings us together, even while we are apart.

Good news on the horizon

With all the negative news in our state amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about some good news on the horizon for all Michigan drivers. Last year, the Legislature worked with Governor Whitmer to deliver a historic bipartisan auto-insurance reform bill. Lowering car insurance rates was the number one issue I heard about from Berrien County residents at their doors, and I was proud to cast my vote and deliver on a promise I made in my first election. Starting in July, Michigan drivers will finally see relief after paying the highest-in-the-nation insurance rates for decades. The new law is already working and paying dividends. It was announced that the catastrophic claims association annual per vehicle fee is falling from $220 to $100- a 55% savings. It was also announced by the Department of Insurance and Financial Services that the first round of insurance rate filings approved for July are showing larger than expected PIP savings for Michigan drivers. Individuals who choose to continue their lifetime unlimited medical coverage are expected to save at least 16.5%. For individuals who choose a different level of coverage, the savings estimates are even higher. The Department of Insurance and Financial Services is projecting 36.3% savings at the $500,000 level, 41.9% at the $250,000 level, and 54.3% at the $50,000 level. Delivering auto-insurance relief to Berrien County residents was the number one priority I took to Lansing, and I’m proud to have delivered for the hard-working people of my community. As we get closer to July, I encourage everyone to be an informed consumer and speak with their insurance agent about the new law and how it will impact them and their families. For more information on the historic reform, residents can visit www.reducemiratesnow.com or www.michi- gan.gov/autoinsurance. If I can ever be of assistance to you, you can reach me via email at PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov or by phone at 517-373-1403. You can also visit my website at www.RepWendzel.com.