Dear Mr. Washington,
I see that today is your birthday, so I wanted to join the chorus of well-wishers.
But I don't just want to say, "Happy Birthday." I want to say, "Thank you."
Thank you for the work you have done over the years that has illuminated the complexity of being human. Not all of your movies have been great. But some have been. And in my view, some have been better than anyone seems to have noticed - I think particularly of "Fallen," and of "The Siege." Thank you for doing them all, for crossing genres, for not being a one-trick pony.
And thank you for how you've lived your life. I don't hold the view that every Black celebrity represents the entire Black race, but since I know that some people do hold that view, I am grateful for how you have represented us, whether you wanted to or not. I'm sure that you have had many opportunities to engage in foolishness that would demean the race (Black or human, take your choice). But not once have I seen a video clip, a story, or even a headline of you doing so. On the contrary, you have always come across as a man worth respecting, and more than that, a man worth knowing.
Later today, I think I'll kick back with my wife to watch your biography on Biography. And as we watch, I'll wish that I could be with you for just a minute, just long enough to look you in the eye and shake your hand while saying this (but for now this will have to do): Happy birthday, sir, and thank you. I appreciate you more than I know how to say.