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    - Photo of 3 marines during a memorial service at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. 6 golden stars beneath Headline: Memorial Day 2016.

    Dan Thibodeau is a USAJOBS Program Manager 

    With Memorial Day weekend upon us, Americans will be firing up their grills and shopping for a good sale. But let’s not forget what this holiday is truly about. It’s not about launching the summer season or even thanking our heroic veterans for their service to America. Memorial Day is a somber day of remembrance for the 1.8 million Americans who have given their lives in defense of this country.

    Created after the Civil War, this holiday was intended to give Americans the opportunity to share their feelings, pride, respect, and honor for those who paid the ultimate price while serving in our nation’s military. This day, in particular, is especially meaningful for me. As a former Sergeant in the Marine Corps, I spent four years serving as an Aviation Ordnanceman before being medically discharged from the military. During my time in the service, and since getting out, I’ve wanted to do something to honor those who died while serving.

    Sergeant Joshua James Frazier was tragically killed by a sniper in Iraq in February, 2007. The 24-year-old Marine from Spotsylvania, Va., had recently been promoted and was scheduled to head home in just two months when his life was cut short.

    To honor my Marine brother, I will spend two years raising a black Labrador retriever, who is currently in training to become a service dog with Warrior Canine Connection. His name, fittingly, is Frazier.

    Frazier, who will celebrate his first birthday this October, is on track to become a mobility service dog with Warrior Canine Connection, an organization that enlists recovering veterans (like myself) to train service dogs for fellow wounded veterans. These dogs help wounded warriors reconnect with life, their families, their communities and each other in many ways. They are trained to help open doors, retrieve items, and turn on lights, among other duties.

    Frazier is a busy boy. He goes everywhere with me, including my office here at OPM.  He even has his own Facebook page, if you would like to stay up-to-date on his adventures.

    Last weekend, we attended a motorcycle ride honoring Sergeant Frazier and Army Sergeant Nicholas Mason. More than 600 motorcyclists participated in the annual ride, which was designed to honor and remember Virginia’s fallen service members and to reach out and help those veterans who are wounded, disabled, or in need.  

    For those OPM employees who live near Washington D.C., we are lucky to have the opportunity to visit multiple memorials dedicated to those killed in action, including Arlington National Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the WWII, Korean, and Vietnam Veterans memorials. My personal favorite is the veteran’s exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

    But even if you don’t live in D.C., cities across the country have memorials, cemeteries, and museums dedicated to our country’s fallen service members. If you have the chance, please take time on Monday to visit one of these landmarks and reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day. 

     Photo of a man and his dog posing in front of OPM's building. Photo of a dog looking into the camera.

    Photo of The Missing Military Service Member TablePhoto of the Vietnam War Memorial.

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