I have had 24 birthdays. Twenty-four chances for a refresh. Twenty-four wishes on birthday candles. Twenty-four days devoted to the celebration of my life.
Ten of those 24 days have been bittersweet, scarred by an act of hate and ignorance that I hope and pray will never been felt again, but know occurs every day across the world. Men and women are protecting our every word and action each day, and that is something that I will never forget. They have given me the opportunity to experience my last nine birthdays and many more to come.
It is said that each generation has a defining moment, an event that forever shapes how they see the world. 9/11 is that moment for me. It has shaped so many aspects of my life and of those around me. Some of the people I love most dearly serve our country and they make me proud. I am proud of their courage and I am proud to know them. Tears come to my eyes whenever I think of them because I am aware of everything they risk losing for the larger purpose of freedom and everything I risk losing if they didn’t have the strength to do what the average person cannot.
Each and every one of them are my heroes and I know that they pay a heavy price for holding the weight of our problems on their shoulders. And I want them to know that they are appreciated and they are loved and we are on their side. And no matter who runs the nation from behind the desk, we know that they are the ones who make the American dream possible. They are the ones that are on our side.
So, thank you for everyone that wished me a “Happy Birthday,” but if I could have one request it would be that each of you tell someone you know — a marine, a soldier, a fireman, a police officer, anyone who serves this country — tell them thank you and that you appreciate the sacrifices they make so you can live your life. Never underestimate the power of a “thank you.”
This song is for every service man and woman, every spouse, every child, every family member and every American who lived through 9/11. We are in this together, and we can conquer anything together.