Twelve years ago, everything changed.

It's not overly dramatic to say that nothing has been, or ever will be the same since September 11, 2001.  Simple things like the way we catch flights, to the way we watch the news are just a couple of the things that completely changed that day.  Gone forever are the days of running to catch a plane last minute, or waiting for the five o'clock evening news.  Now there are hour long waits for security, and news isn't just a 24 hour event on tv, it's virtually inescapable because of our computers and phones.

But what changed in your life?

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My life changed the night of 9/11 when President Bush spoke to the nation.  I was watching with my family at my parents house, and after the speech, Ryan announced that he would be joining the Army as soon as he graduated from high school.  When he went to basic training, my cell phone became a permanent fixture in my hand because I couldn't risk missing a call.  During his 3 deployments to Iraq, I only missed one phone call, and my heart still drops even now as I write that sentence.

I'm embarrassed to say that I never gave much thought to first responders before 9/11.  They were just there, but I was lucky enough to never have needed them.  But watching firefighters and police officers run towards the scenes of disaster on 9/11, well, we hear the word "hero" often, but I think in every dictionary, the images of those brave men and women should be right next to the definition.

So many words have been written about 9/11 that I guess what I most want to say is, thank you to our first responders.  Thank you to our military who has kept our country safe from further attacks by putting themselves in harms way ever since that terrible day.  We will never be able to repay you for the time away from your families, the things you've had to fight against, and the things you have seen.  Thank you to our police and firefighters for being just a phone call away to help us when disaster strikes, and never asking anything other than 'where is the emergency?'  We can never repay you, but we can honor you, and we do.

God Bless America, and may He keep our first responders safe.