The sun was turning golden in late afternoon when I walked down to my polling place on election day in November 2012. Main Street looked lovely, and with this flag perfectly illuminated at the moment I walked toward it I thought what being able to cast a vote means to all of us in every town and city all over this country. We whine, boast, throw mud in each others’ faces, but in the end we have this one basic right that ensures us a say in what happens to us.
I thought of my mother and my older relatives, the children of immigrants who had left one tyranny after another and risked their lives to come here to freedom, that “greatest generation” always so proud to cast their vote. I drove them to the polls and was proudly introduced to their friends from grade school, also the children of immigrants, who were electoral workers. They are all gone now. They left this to duty me.
People die for this right all over the world, every day.
Women in this country died for this right less than 100 years ago.
African-americans in this country died for this right barely 50 years ago.
Veterans who served under this flag died to ensure this right to us in every conflict from our founding to today.
Standing there on the sidewalk with my camera pointed at this gently waving flag, waiting for the perfect moment, whatever that would be, I was intensely grateful for the safety of my street, for the people who honked and waved at me seeing what I was doing, for my freedom to creatively express myself without fear of reprisal, and I knew that, pacifist that I am, if any foreign nation came along to try to take that moment away from me I’d be on the front lines risking my life to keep this freedom for all of us.
I’m glad all I need to do is vote.
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