Friday, June 6, 2014
The year: 1952. The state: Georgia. National news: the presidential election. Personal news: I was in high school and about to cast my first ballot.
Since 1943 Georgians could vote at age 18 and I was so excited to add my name to those rolls, I stood in line for three hours to register. The line took at least that long on election day. That year, Barbara Ann Lynch of Atlanta helped send Dwight David Eisenhower to Washington.
That’s the way my dad always told us to view it. We were part of this great country and we should help keep her great whenever we could. Voting was our entry level of assistance, and we talked about it often.
I was in first grade when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and I remember it well because we listened to the news during suppertime most nights. (We weren’t allowed to listen to the Lone Ranger, but we could learn something from the news, my dad said!)
My parents told us about “our boys” in conflict and we prayed for them when we blessed our food. Those were the years I first heard of General Eisenhower and I was thrilled that he was the presidential candidate for whom I could cast my first vote. Like most of the country in the early 50s, I Liked Ike.
Over the years it wasn’t always easy to vote. We moved 22 times in 25 years while Jim was in the Air Force, making it a challenge to retain eligibility. The only time I can remember not voting in any election – local or national – was when I had to go to the hospital (early, naturally) to give birth to twins. But I figured I was adding to the future rolls so it would all work out.
Sound like bragging? Well darn it – it is! Nobody would ever say one of my pies could win a prize at a county fair. Nobody would ever say that my flower arrangements sing to the angels. But I can say I’m a constant voter and am proud of it.
I’ve been alive for 13 presidents: Roosevelt (Franklin, not Theodore!), Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton, and Obama. I’ve been privileged to be able to vote in 11 of their elections.
I think most of us who keep up with the news, particularly through newspapers, feel the same way. Printed news is tangible and the written word can be set aside to review and keep us informed. Schools are exposing students to the election process.
Our upcoming local primary made me remember our granddaughter Grace, who at age five, informed me that if she were running for office she would run on the Pink Platform. “Everything would be pink,” she began. “Everything would be free. And we’d all have chocolate for breakfast, lunch, supper, and,” she finished with a flourish, “dessert!”
Now who wouldn’t vote for that? But the important thing to me is that she was learning about elections in kindergarten and really beginning to think through the process. Dad was right when he said every vote helps. It helps our candidates; helps compile valuable statistics on the voting public; and helps make us feel included in our government.
It’s a really little thing to do for a much bigger payoff. See you at the ballot box on Tuesday?