But the one thing that is different this year is my active attempt to actually thank those who have sacrificed so very much. I am trying to say it to the stranger I see at the store, or to my friends or their families. I want them to know that I appreciate them. And while posting my appreciation on my blog is great, it doesn't compare to the words coming directly from me to them. I encourage you to thank someone you don't know for putting their life on the line so you can live in freedom. Even if it is just one person. It it the least we can do.
A letter of thanks could never suffice to express the thanks and appreciation I have for you. Your choice of career lends you to putting your life in the line for people you will never meet and people who might treat you poorly because of that uniform you are wearing. You and your entire family go for months at a time apart with an element of unknown and potential danger where your family and loved ones can only pray for your safety in response to your absence.
You are exposed to some of the most horrific images a person could see, endure a training so grueling and taxing and are expected to have a mind and body that can react to a myriad of situations in a split second requiring the correct response every time or lives can be lost.
When I see you in uniform, it moves me. I may not say it to those of you whom I see regularly but I hold you in very high esteem. I also hold your spouses and children in a very special place. Your sacrifice is for me! So I can speak freely. Make decisions for myself and not have to submit to an authority that doesn't represent me. Because of you, I get to speak up when I don't like something our government is doing. I get to choose everything from the kind of bread I eat, to the channels I watch to the man I want leading our country. And even when I don't agree with the bread available or the man in office, I still respect the process. The ability to stand in a tiny booth, expect total privacy and get to choose the circle I darken.
So today is your day. And there are some cool businesses that are thanking you for your sacrifices by giving you a free meal or free admission and I hope you take it. I hope that when people see you and recognize the gift you have given them, they say thank you in person.
We thank you.