It’s Election Day here in the US, and depending who you ask you may be met with ambivalence, enthusiasm, or pessimism.
I am an enthusiastic voter – my first time voting was the 2004 presidential election, and I’ve only missed one midterm (regrettably) ever since. This year I even early voted, which if you knew me personally, you’d quickly find that my relationship with deadlines is very close-knit, so this is a feat! 🙂 My enthusiasm is inherited. My grandfather, my Pa-Pa, was an ardent debater of politics, skeptic of politicians, and watcher of C-SPAN and the nightly news, things he instilled and ingrained in me at a young age. He was an incredibly enthusiastic voter, and even made sure to early vote in his last election, just in case the cancer made it impossible on election day. He and I never got the chance to vote together, but every single election I walk into my polling place and press the button in his honor, and every time I get weepy about how beautiful a working democracy can be, or fiercely debate the merits of policy and politicians, I credit it to him.
My greater point is, that ambivalence about my right to vote has never been an option.
My right, and your right, to vote has been paid for on the battlefields – from Lexington and Concord, in New Orleans and at Appomattox, at the Somme and St. Mihiel, from Normandy to Okinawa, Korea, Vietnam, and in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Our right to vote organized and marched from Seneca Falls through time for 72 years, to an August day in 1920, in my home state of Tennessee, when a man who carried a letter from his mother, urging him to be on the right side of history, cast the vote that ratified the 19th Amendment. And the march continued on for another 45 years after that, weathering a beating on a bridge in Selma and overcoming death in Mississippi until we could ALL have the right to vote without fear of discrimination, and it marches on today for the same purpose.
Today I urge you to not take your vote for granted. The legacy of our ancestors is our right to vote, and I hope that you will let it be your legacy as well.