For generations to come, September 11th will evoke a wide range of emotions for so many of our fellow Americans. As a nation, we grieve for those lost as we vow to defend our homeland against acts of senseless radicalism and violence in the future.
Today, we choose to be deeply grateful to the truest patriots among us. Many of America’s bravest war fighters call Northwest Florida home. They go to our churches; their children attend our schools; we even chat together in the checkout line at Publix. Our servicewomen and servicemen have always flavored our community with their character, charity and bravery. And when America goes to war, Northwest Floridians often go first, fighting evil in the farthest corners of the globe as husbands, wives, children and parents bargain with God for a safe return.
From the days of Lexington and Concord to today, those willing to take up arms for our nation have always been the truest examples of America’s exceptionalism.
It is the service and sacrifice of others that keeps our community strong and safe. Firefighters, police officers and first responders go to work each day hoping for the chance to help someone else in jeopardy. They train and prepare for risks that would shake the strongest willed. They comfort and care on our worst days. We could never pay them enough for the value bestowed to us all.
Of course, September 11th deepens our resolve to expand and defend the promise of freedom. It should. But equally as important as any value or virtue we cherish are those who defend them each day.
Today, thank an airman, soldier, sailor, firefighter or cop. Tell them that America is still counting on them. They never seem to mind our appreciation – even while checking out at Publix.