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    Arlington National Cemetery

    As we celebrate Memorial Day with family and friends, I’d like to take this opportunity to pause and remember those who have fallen in service to their country. During my 33 years in the United States Navy, I lost friends and comrades. So this day serves as a special reminder to me that we honor their memories through our own service to our country.

    Each year on Veterans Day, we pay tribute to all members of the military who have served. On Armed Services Day, we recognize all active duty members of the military.  But Memorial Day is a time for us to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We remember the brave men and women, in and out of uniform, who gave their lives to preserve our liberty.

    Simply remembering, however, is not enough. Words and thoughts mean nothing if they are not accompanied by actions. Three actions all of us can take immediately come to my mind: Honoring the fallen, caring for our wounded brothers and sisters, and safeguarding their families.

    I always make sure to visit national cemeteries around Memorial Day. This year, I will pay my respects at Arlington National Cemetery. But one of my most profound Memorial Day memories is taking the sons of a fallen solider to their father’s gravesite. Their father, someone I was privileged to mentor, was killed in an aircraft accident. He would be proud to know that his sons are both now pursuing higher education, and that his older son is following in his father’s footsteps as a midshipman student at the Naval Academy.

    As a member of the Armed Services, people often thank me for my service. But those who deserve the highest gratitude are those who have given the full measure of their lives for our country. I hope that this Memorial Day, you will join me in honoring their sacrifice.

    Admiral Earl Gay is a Senior Advisor to the Director at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management

    Admiral Earl Gay salutes in uniform.

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