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Canine helps bring fallen soldier, family closer together

Families honor fallen soldiers at Fort Bliss National Cemetery (Credit: KFOX14/CBS4)

Memorial Day is a time for remembering those who fought for our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. For Sandra Diaz, it’s a time to celebrate the life of her son, Staff Sgt. Christopher Diaz.

“When he left, I knew something could have happened, something couldn’t happen,” Sandra Diaz. “Unfortunately, it did, but I was so proud of my son that he didn’t go with saying that this is going to happen. He went about his work, and that’s what he did as a K-9 handler.”

Diaz was among dozens of others who attended the memorial service at Fort Bliss National Cemetery Monday morning.

Diaz described her son as rambunctious, shy, loving man who always had a smile on his face and was always willing to protect the people around him.

Diaz knew that when her son left home, there would always be a chance of losing him, but she was proud of him for not dwelling in that mindset and getting out there to do his job.

Sgt. Diaz, who was a gold star staff sergeant, died on Sept. 28, 2011, when he was killed by an explosive device in Afghanistan as he rushed to aid a fellow Marine during a raid in Helmand province.

After Sgt. Diaz lost his life, his mother and family were given the opportunity to adopt Dino, the K-9 that Sgt. Diaz worked so closely with while serving his country. Dino helped Diaz begin to heal after losing her son.

“When we adopted Dino, it was the best medicine ever because we got part of Christopher there, that it was the last thing he was holding onto when he was there," said Sandra Diaz.

For the Diaz family, they have more to remember their son and brother by than just his memory and Dino. Sgt. Diaz had a street named after him close to the Chamizal National Memorial, where his memory will continue to live on for years to come.

“We met so many of the K-9 handlers out there. It was such an honor that they named a street out there after him. It was proud time for myself and my husband and our sons. It’s amazing that someone would go that far to remember Christopher, and it felt so nice,” Sandra Diaz.

Maj. Virgil Thomas, installation community chaplin, explained that when someone dies in action, it is never in vain, and not only on Memorial Day, but every day, we should recognize the lives that have been lost to give us the life we live today.

“We have to understand that one of the highest honors anyone can have is to serve their country when they put the uniform on and to understand that their death was definitely not in vain,” said Maj. Thomas. “We have to understand that in war, it’s not pretty and that the price many times is paid in blood, but that for the spiritual person there is victory in blood. I know theologically some may not understand but, nevertheless the reason we have the freedoms we have today and our way of life is that somebody sacrificed on the battlefield for us to live the way we do. So every day, we should never take that for granted.”

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