by Kimberly A. Cook (Twitter@ WarriorTales)
While Superstorm Sandy still pounds the Eastern United States, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone. Stay safe. One dedicated unit who stood their ground against Mother Nature’s wrath was the Old Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington, D.C. They maintained their duty while the superstorm hit, not leaving their posts. Read about it here http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/10/ap-old-guard-stays-tomb-of-unknowns-hurricane-sandy-102912/
With soldier dedication like that, including all the first responders and National Guard saving lives during this storm, the coming election day can fade from view. For those of us not touched by this storm, we need to make the effort to get out and vote next week to honor those who may not be able to go to the polls. With a week before the election, getting folks out to vote will be an even harder task back East. I don’t talk about religion or politics on my blog because military writing is my news beat and everyone gets their own ballot.
But I can encourage everyone to get out and vote. Period. I voted on October 22. Oregon has had vote-by-mail since 1998. I think the entire country should do vote-by-mail. Leaves a paper trail, costs 30 percent less and we might even save the United States Post Office by making them the official national ballot couriers. (I do not trust electronic voting machines with heaven knows what code inside them. Call me old school.)
Until the USPS gets that tasking, I can’t encourage folks to vote enough. The first time I voted was on a pool table in my barracks recreation hall watched over by my First Lieutenant. Serving in the Army in Colorado, I had a Oregon absentee ballot. I felt so adult and proud to do my duty.
It’s easy to forget how and why we got the vote, but it was George Washington and his soldiers, their families and women who supported them fighting and dying to create this great country. Since that time our military men and women have continued to defend, serve and sacrifice not only so we can vote, but so other nations can grow to have that same right. So if you can go to a polling place or send it in by mail, do it.
As a former newspaper reporter who cherishes the First Amendment for Freedom of Speech for writers as well as everyday citizens, I know voting is a privilege and a duty. If you don’t vote, you can’t gripe. That’s my rule!