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Christmas is different this year because it is the first year Mark's family will be without him. I was talking with his brother Thad recently that Mark's death brought about the recognition of the sacrifice he and his family have paid, and I was disappointed in myself I didn't feel this depth of gratitude as much when he was still alive. It shouldn't take the loss of life to be grateful for this. Our gratitude should be paid to those who have died, and also to those who are now serving or have served already. They are all heros. We have countless Armed service members who will not be with their families this year for sake of freedom. We owe them a tremendous debt and losing Mark has made me much more aware of what their service means and this spirit of gratitude is what I am focusing on this Christmas.
As we spend time with our friends and families, eating great food in warm places, spend a moment to pause and think about the cost of the freedoms we enjoy. Send a few prayers to the Foresters in Haleyville, Alabama- they are still struggling and grieving their loss.
Thank you again Mark for everything you have done for me and thank you to the Foresters for your sacrifice. I also want to express very sincere appreciation for all service men and women who have served, are now serving or will serve in the future. I will not forget what you have done for me, as well as this great nation we live in.