Tag Archives: Our nation

Voting Excitement

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The husband and I headed out to the early voting site this morning.  I had the ever present coffee travel mug in hand, filled to the brim.   My husband was predicting a very low attendance as we pulled into the parking lot.  The site had been a local Lions Club at one time and is now owned by the county.
In addition to the usual group of volunteers and candidates stumping out front, there was a short line of people outside the door.  We walked up and got into place, saying “good morning” to the couple in front of us.  My husband began to feign indifference, knowing I was going to jump into a conversation with them.  She then turned and said, “This is my first time voting, ever.”  I said “Congratulations!  It’s an exciting day for you.”  She then flashed us the biggest, brightest smile and her eyes lit up like sparklers.  It was clear she was very excited about the occasion.  And Mr. “I’m not interested” began listening; he doesn’t fool me.  Another man overheard her remark and told a story of how his  mother died at age 90 without ever having voted.

This is not a large place and it didn’t take long to get inside the doors.  We slowly edged our way to the entryway of the large room where we would check in and get our ballots. On the left door was the sample ballot.  The woman’s husband began to explain how the ballot was organized, showing her where the presidential candidates were listed, then moving down to the next area where she could indicate a straight ticket vote.  She turned back to me with another excited smile and I laughed as I told her it was like taking a test when were children in school.  You had to color in the circles to indicate your choices.  (Remember, we are talking small town, still somewhat rural – no electronic ballot machines here!)

We then moved into the voting area.  She went to a separate line to register while her husband and most of the rest of us just checked in.  They got their ballots and went to two adjacent booths as my husband and I did the same.  I so wanted to watch her vote.  I know her husband was helping her get everything completed.  We finished about the same time and after they put their ballots in the machine, she picked up her “I Voted” sticker and had it on before they got through the doorway.

It has been a very long time since I have seen anyone that excited to be at the polls.  It reminded me of the little children who run down the aisle at church when it’s time for the children’s message – they don’t want to be left out.  We should all be that excited to exercise our right and our privilege to vote.

 

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What Knits Us Together

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I went to a funeral service last week for Larry, the father-in-law of a good friend.  It was a pretty typical funeral service with one exception:  the folding and presentation of the US flag.

Larry was a World War II veteran.  I’ve been to a couple of funeral services for WWII veterans, but this is the first time I have witnessed this presentation in person.

Because of the heat, the family chose to have the commitment, usually done at the graveside, inside the church as the closing of the service.  After the last prayer, the ministers remained silent as a naval officer in dress whites walked down the center aisle and stood at the head of the casket, where the flag’s canton of blue containing the stars lay.  He saluted.

Then came a sailor, also in dress whites, down the center aisle.  He took his place at the foot of the casket, at the end of the red and white stripes.  He saluted.  It was totally silent in the church.

They grasped the ends of the flag that covered Larry’s casket and stepped to the front side of the casket.  They folded the flag once; then again.  Then with purpose and care, the sailor began folding the flag in a triangular pattern, moving toward the officer.

As he got close to the field of blue and stars, he stopped, clearly unhappy with the work he had done. He unfolded the flag twice.  He gently but precisely worked the fabric to get the stars aligned in the proper way.  Then he refolded the triangles.  The officer tucked in the end of the flag, just so.  The sailor then held the folded flag for the officer’s final inspection, at which point the officer saluted.  He then took the flag from the sailor, who saluted, turned to face the congregation and quietly strode back down the center aisle.

The officer took the folded flag and walked over to Larry’s widow and family.  He removed his hat, leaned over to present her with the flag, and spoke a message to her on behalf of the President.  He put his hat back on, faced the congregation, saluted and then made his way back down the center aisle.

To be a witness to such a tribute was deeply moving. We are a more informal society these days; in some situations, this has been a good thing.  But it was inspiring to see this formal act of respect and remembrance.  I appreciate that the sailor cared enough to redo the folds, to do it “right”, because “doing it right” matters.

Do you observe any rituals?  If so, hold them dear.  Take the time and make the effort to continue.  Make sure the children, the grandchildren, the in-laws are a part of it, even if they whine and complain.  If you don’t have one, start one.  Our rituals are part of what knits us together as a family, a membership, a nation.

And to the two naval representatives who gave of themselves in service to our country and to Larry and his family that day, thank you.

Change 4th-coming?

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This spring, I watched every night of “The Hatfields and McCoys” mini-series on the History Channel.  Good grief – that was nonstop fussing and fighting!  Unfortunately, it appears that things have not changed all that much in our country; there’s still a lot of fussing and fighting going on.  However, in spite of the fact that our country is made up of very fallible human beings (knuckleheads included), there is no other country I’d rather be a citizen of than the United States of America.

For me, the 4th of July is a day to be grateful.  Grateful I can write and read blogs without censorship.  Grateful I, and all the other females I know, can go to school…drive automobiles…walk through cities and towns without needing a male in the family to escort us. Grateful I can go to church openly and not fear for my life.  Grateful to the men and women who have chosen to stand in harm’s way to protect us at home and abroad.

No, our country is not perfect.  Yes, there is much that could be improved.  But folks, that ain’t gonna happen ‘til we have an individual and collective change of attitude.

In his book The Heart and the Fist, Eric Greitens writes, “…a good life, a meaningful life, a life in which we can enjoy the world and live with purpose, can only be built if we do more than live for ourselves.”  Now this is what I call a 4th of July attitude!  It’s a way of thinking and living that would light up a change for the better in our country!

So how about it, y’all?  This 4th of July, what will you do to make our great nation better?  Celebrate the USA’s birthday by doing something more than living for yourself.

In the meantime, I had to share the first stanza from a hymn we sang this past Sunday.  Just a little something else to keep in mind as you light up that sparkler.  Happy 4th!

 

This is my song, Oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

This Is My Song (1934)