On this day…

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Yesterday, my brand new passport arrived in the mail. A priceless, little blue book—people would kill for it—so many have died for it.

Fifteen years ago, the splendor of a September morning was stolen by tragedy. Every year, this anniversary finds me struggling to balance remembrance and honor.

News channels flood our screens with disturbing images, but what I find most painful are the pictures of celebrities, athletes and others disrespecting America’s flag and National Anthem. I acknowledge that peaceful protest is an integral freedom in our country. They’re exercising their rights. I’m also exercising my right to find that behavior offensive and unacceptable. It has no place on this day.

How to commemorate the fallen, is a personal choice. Once again this year, flags will be lowered. Names will be read. Bells will ring. Tears will be shed. However the hours are spent, the greatest way to honor the fallen is by living each day to its fullest. Whether we share dinner with friends and family, cheer for our favorite teams, dance or sing—we are proving that hate and terror will not win.

On September 11th, and every day, I thank the pilots, soldiers, sailors, and corpsman who serve and protect. I thank police officers, firefighters, first responders, chaplains, K9 officers, and anonymous volunteers who showed up to search for survivors. Every minute of your sacrifice is precious.

To all who defend our freedom, I promise;

I will never stop speaking from my heart,

I will never take my freedom for granted,

I will never forget.