On the 4th of July, as fireworks twinkled in the sky above and “The Star-Spangled Banner” played, I lost myself in a moment of time travel, peeking in on others in their moments of bravery.
First, gazing through the smoky field, I saw a soldier in the Revolutionary War and heard his rifle pop as he fought for the right to have a say in his life, freedom to be represented in his government. The next moment, I was amazed by a suffragette grasping a sparkler in one hand and a sign proclaiming “Votes for Women” in the other. The loudest explosions, felt in the deepest part of my heart, revived the strong, soulful voices singing “We Shall Overcome” in response to violence during the Civil Rights movement. Awash in other people’s memories of their personal struggle for the right to vote, I got an inkling of their patriotic resolve, bravery and courage.
Mark Twain put it best when he said,
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
These brave souls fought for our right to a representative government. We must never forget them and to vote is to honor their sacrifice. A well-respected author, Louis L’Amour, once said, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.” Being a citizen is a privilege and a duty. We cannot expect our government to represent our values if we do not participate in its creation. That is the blessing and responsibility that founded our nation.
It means we have to care enough to pay attention to what’s happening around us. Caring is an act of bravery; it’s putting energy and time into an enormous process, one that is hard to see progress in. But, if your heart swells like mine hearing the national anthem, show how much you care and vote.
Voting is your voice
During July we celebrate freedom. What does that really mean? It means the right to own property, the right to make our own choices, the right to bear arms and the right to stand up for what we believe in. The way we do that is by voting. Our government was created FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE and so it remains.
This month, to honor the many who have fought for our right to vote—with both weapons and civic actions, please register to vote. The 1 Mississippi campaign has provided “how to register” information right here. In the 2012 election, only 57% of Americans voted, with around 93 million people not participating. Voting is the only way to have your say in electing someone who represents you; then the next time you put your hand over your heart and sing “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” you’ll feel the pride of knowing you’ve earned it.
Together we stand!
1 Mississippi Outreach Coordinator
How does the United States rank compared to other countries in voter turnout?
a. We are ranked #1! U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A!
b. I think we are in the top 10?
c. We’ve gotta at least be in the top 25?
d. It’s bad, isn’t it?