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Saturday, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to be a
Christian to appreciate the remarkable impact that Jesus has had on the
world. Jesus’ brief life on this earth touches every aspect of everything
every one of us does. Even the Y2K crisis reflects the worldwide importance
of Christ’s birth.

If we are to honor Jesus’ contribution to our lives, we must do more than
just give gifts to our friends and family. We must practice with our lives
what Jesus practiced and preached with his. We must work tirelessly to help
all of God’s children enjoy the benefits of a world increasingly connected
by computers and the Internet. We must do more than we have ever done
before. Because that is what Jesus did for us.

Christmas has always been a special time for me. I love hearing Christmas
music on the radio and playing Handel’s Messiah at home and in my truck.
People are warmer toward each other, once they have finished their Christmas
shopping, that is.

It’s a special time of the year, but I worry that we have forgotten
something important. This thought came to me as I drove by an old woman who
was beaming as she talked with her mailman.

I worry that we have forgotten those who serve us 24 hours a day. I worry
that we take for granted those whose sacrifices make our lives safer,
healthier and more prosperous. So I ask you, my friends, to tell these
special people how much you appreciate them.

At the top of my list are our men and women in law enforcement, the
military, our fire departments, and our EMS and hospital system.

They invented the term “24/7.” They are on the job while we sleep. They
are on the job when we are ill. They are on the job when we are on vacation.
They are on the job during our holidays. They work in the most dangerous
places in the world so that we don’t have to. They are the brave, thin line
that keeps us safe.

Let these special members of our family know how much you appreciate them
this holiday season. Don’t just smile and wave when you see them. Get out of
your car and tell them how much you appreciate them. Stop by and let them
know that you haven’t forgotten them.

However, don’t stop with the thin line. Also remember those whose jobs
might not put them in danger, but whose 24/7 work is just as essential to
our well-being.

I’m talking about the men and women of our electric, water, gas and
telephone companies. We all like to gripe when things don’t work. That’s
because we have become accustomed to things always working.

When we turn on a faucet, we expect the water to flow and be safe. When
we turn a light switch “on” or plug something in, we expect the power to be
there. When we turn our heater “on,” we expect the gas to be ready and
waiting. When we lift the phone, we expect to be able to call anyone we want
anytime in the day or night.

These things just don’t happen. They are the result of the dedicated work
of millions of our fellow Americans.

I have worked and lived in countries where none of these assumptions were
true. I have boiled tap water that wasn’t safe to drink. I have bought fuel
for generators to protect against regular blackouts. Heck, I have even
stored water in anticipation of days of no water pressure. No, my friends,
there are so many things about our way of life that are special. Let’s thank
those who make it so.

While you are at it, don’t forget to thank those men and women who take
our garbage, deliver our mail, repair our roads and keep us connected with
the rest of the world. We assume that they will be there, rain or shine,
winter or summer. However, when we stay inside because “the weather’s too
nasty to go outside,” guess whose out in it? Let them know, in your own
special way, that you appreciate what they do.

Once you start thinking about how much we depend upon strangers, you
start to realize how blessed we are. The list is endless. Each of us has our
favorites.

We eat food that we buy in restaurants, at fast food places or in grocery
stores without testing it for poison. We drive vehicles without worrying if
they will fail at high speeds. We go into buildings without fearing that
they will collapse. We pay our bills without worrying that they will take
and not credit our money. We live our lives trusting people we will never
meet to do the right thing. And they do.

As you celebrate the birth of Christ, think about the impact that this
incredible being had on all of us — Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus,
Buddhists and even those who don’t believe.

And don’t forget the men and women who have dedicated their lives to
making your life safer and better. They are a living testament to the impact
that Jesus has on our lives.

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