Recently, thoughts have taken me back to a time when every classroom recited the Pledge of Allegiance each morning, schools celebrated Flag Day, and the streets of small towns were lined with patriotic citizens of all ages for military holidays and July 4th.
This was a time when it was common to see every house decorated in red, white and blue, adorned with banners and flags displayed as far as the eye could see.
As a youngster, these gatherings were about family, the excitement of watching a parade, and gathering as much candy as my small pockets would allow. While I did not fully understand their importance then, both education and experience have created a deep understanding in my adulthood just why we take time to honor them.
I continue to attend these gatherings and have noticed that, while there are homes decorated in full holiday regalia, these homes are fewer and more scattered.
I notice that some in attendance remove their caps and salute the flag as it passes, but not all do. I notice that there is more pavement than people, and fewer still are the parade floats.
It is not lost on me that this may be a representation of how things have changed in our country. It is also not lost on me, as I consider those in attendance, that I am not alone. Though social mores may convey that I am a dying breed and that my standards have no value in present society, I will continue to stand up, speak up, and defend the moral teachings my family instilled in me. These include God, country, family, and personal responsibility, among others.
The landscape of America is changing and I am intrigued, and sometimes horrified, by its metamorphosis.
Despite these changes, America was created by people with strong convictions that they believed to be right and just. Because of their efforts and sacrifices over two centuries ago, we enjoy the liberties that we have today. With liberty, there is also responsibility.
As citizens, we have the right, nay, the responsibility, to educate ourselves and exercise our vote for what we believe to be best for our country.
Few things are certain: History tends to repeat itself. Change is inevitable. Silence is consent. Ignoring situations and circumstances does not excuse us from this responsibility nor protect us from determined outcomes. When we vote, the outcome may not be our preferred result.
However, we have used this responsibility to affect the outcome, and that is our accountability to ourselves and to each other. Whether or not we share common beliefs, we do share the obligation as Americans to actively participate in and impact our government, which consequently, influences our daily lives.
Please do not mistake mid-term elections as unimportant because they have the most impact locally, and such, the most concern on our daily lives. Please do not resign to the thought that your vote doesn’t matter, or that you don’t have the time, or some other excuse to prevent you from voting.
I implore you to register, update your registration if you’ve moved or haven’t voted in awhile, and exercise your vote at every opportunity.
Your voice matters. Your vote matters.
Use both to inform and defend what you believe to be right and just.
Tracy Hopkins is a resident of Vernon Township, Clinton County.