It is time to turn another page of the calendar. Americans have marked nearly a year of mitigation strategies to offset a relentless pandemic. We continue to watch as Black men are shot down by law enforcement officers in the streets. Citizens witness protests that continue to erupt in our cities. Nature persists in wreaking havoc in every form. November is upon us and once again it is time for Veterans Day and voting. Both take on new meaning in today’s world.
I am the child of a military family. My father, brother, and first husband all donned uniforms and proudly served their country. My father is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. If you have never visited – or have never attended a funeral there – you must add it to your list. It is perhaps the most solemn memorial in our country and a reminder of the bravery and sacrifice of all our military personnel. It is a tribute to those who served with honor and often gave their life for their country.
I believe every citizen has a duty to serve our country. We can join the military. We can take part in community service. We can mentor or donate blood. There are innumerable ways to participate in our democracy and demonstrate our civic responsibility. The simplest and most vital is to vote. Voting offers the greatest and most important impact to our democracy. It allows every citizen a voice in how our government will be run, and who will be in charge. It provides equal say to every voter and can be repeated throughout our lifetimes. It is a gift many in the world only dream of acquiring. Yet so many in America take this privilege for granted and often ignore the importance of their ballot.
We are living in difficult and demanding times. There are more responsibilities on our plates than we would like. We are experiencing more uncertainty and confusion in our lives. There is more sadness in our hearts. We might be inclined to think that we can do nothing more. The idea of spending time in line at the ballot booth may not seem worth the added effort – or risk of infection. We may have forgotten to obtain absentee ballots or not had the ability to vote early in our state. Perhaps we just do not want to be bothered. But then, think of the Veterans who selflessly served. Veterans served in difficult and demanding times. They shouldered more responsibility than they could bear. They were uncertain, confused, and had hearts filled with sadness. Veterans likely often thought they could do nothing more. Yet they did. Veterans fought and died to ensure our freedom to vote. Let’s not let them down. I VOTED. Did you?