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Collin Mooney on the true meaning of Memorial Day

"For those who have lost a friend or loved one in the line of duty, every day is Memorial Day," wrote Collin Mooney. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Atlanta Falcons fullback Collin Mooney set an Army single-season record with 1,339 rushing yards back in 2008. Mooney, commissioned in the field artillery branch of the Army, completed three years of active duty while stationed at Fort Still, Oklahoma. Memorial Day carries added significance for Mooney. He shared his thoughts with ESPN.com:

For those who have lost a friend or loved one in the line of duty, every day is Memorial Day. A day does not go by that the loved ones of the fallen don’t think about those they have lost.

Freedom comes at a high cost and that price is paid by the sacrifice of great men and women whose lives were taken from us too soon. They fought and sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy in this country every day. One of those fallen soldiers who has paid that price is my late friend 1LT Dimitri del Castillo. Dimitri was killed in action while fighting in Afghanistan in 2011. He was loving husband, son, brother, friend, and leader. He is severely missed and it is up to us to make sure his legacy lives on and that we honor him by living our lives to the fullest.

We have an obligation to these men and women to not let their sacrifice be in vain. On Memorial Day, it’s important we not only take time to remember the fallen, but also take time to think about their families and what they have sacrificed. Memorial Day is a time to celebrate great men and women and a time to celebrate freedom. Along with the celebration it is imperative that we pause, reflect, and give thanks for the sacrifices others have made on our behalf. They would want us to enjoy this day to the fullest because that’s what they fought for.

For me, having served in the military and lost friends in the line of duty, I have gained a different perspective on life and football. It has given me greater motivation to keep pushing forward. Every time I step on the field, I want to be able to represent them well. I want to honor my friends, classmates and teammates who have fallen by giving all that I have in each endeavor I pursue.

This Memorial Day, I am remembering the great men I served with and their families. They are not forgotten. Be thou at peace.