Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell


Voting is a right and a privilege

In my childhood I developed a deep love for my country that seems to grow stronger during the “golden era.”

When a band strikes up to play the “National Anthem” I jump to my feet and tears come easily. My right hand automatically covers my heart at the privilege of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I am anything but a decent vocalist, but I never miss a chance to sing “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful” because they are more than familiar pieces. The words are meaningful and true.

America is a beautiful country and it is the land that I love.

Like the Lord’s Prayer that we learned in primary Bible School, the American songs’ lyrics are ingrained in our memories from childhood. I sometimes wonder how and where I learned the words to the patriotic songs and to the allegiance to the flag.

Perhaps my mother should get the credit for my flag-waving passion. We had frequent mother-daughter lessons at the kitchen table about the reasons behind the American holidays. Maybe it was my grandmother who planted the patriotic seed when she shared her gratitude for freedom in America when we were doing such mundane chores as gathering eggs or making dumplings. She was 3 years old when her family came to America to escape dictatorship in Prussia.

If ever there is the perfect time to show our patriotism it’s during a presidential election. I have been glued to the candidates and to the news since the primaries and now that we are in the final throes I have volunteered to help man the phones at a presidential election office in Adrian.

The down side of election conversation is that you soon learn that not everyone appreciates voting is a democratic privilege. The positive side is being with other volunteers in the election office who feel as you do and whose goal through Nov. 6 is to get out the vote.

It comes as a shock when people I have known for years say with no remorse that they have never voted and don’t intend to change their ways. Their argument is what good would one vote do? My answer is, a lot.

I have also talked to seniors who have never registered to vote and have little interest in the 2012 election. They ignore the candidates, the debates, and will be relieved when the newspapers and TV channels are devoid of the avalanche of political material.

Then there are the friends I have made as a volunteer. They are people of all ages and in all walks of life, and, like me they hold the American flag high and have put personal issues aside to help get out the vote.

A 64-year-old former township supervisor, who is now a property assessor, explained his attitude toward voting :“I have voted in every election except one and that was when I was in Vietnam. It’s a privilege for every American to vote.”

“To not vote is like a slap in the face to our forefathers,” a 22-year-old said. “People all over the world wish that they could vote like we do.”

In the back room of the election office a man was using his volunteer hours to paint candidates’ signs. He had a ready answer when he was asked what voting means to him.

“To me it’s the whole basis of our freedom. Our constitution gave us the opportunity to choose who would govern at the consent of the governed.”

This presidential election was the first time I voted absentee. Although it gave me ample time to study the several issues on the Michigan ballot, I am going to miss standing in line at the Rollin Township Hall at Devils Lake to chat with strangers with a common goal. Nowhere is there a more compelling feeling of camaraderie than when Americans exercise their voting privilege.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

Contact her at: mpowell@theblade.com.

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