Step up to your civic duties

Kelly Hopkins - Contributing columnist

After our recent election and viewing the small voter turnout, I wondered if some citizens have forgotten their civic duties — the duties each citizen of this republic should always try to achieve.

I found one definition of civic duties that states they are an action or responsibility expected of every member of a society. Our founders believed in the idea of civic duties so much they placed some of them prominently in our Constitution.

Voting is fundamental. Let me also say, an informed vote is fundamental.

Each of us should educate ourselves on current issues. We should watch and read the news. We should attend council, township, commissioners and public meetings.

We vote twice a year and should not be making excuses not to vote. We should make sure we are registered to vote and make time not just to vote, but to also assist others in the voting process.

Jury duty is one of those civic duties that our founders wrote about in our Constitution.

All citizens have the right to have a grand jury hear their case before they are held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous, crime. We all have the rights to have a jury trial and to have an impartial jury.

If citizens did not show up for the call of jury duty, our 5th, 6th and 7th Amendments could not be guaranteed to us.

Locally, our jury list comes from our registered voters. In other areas this list might come from a state identification and driver’s licenses database. Jury duty lists are pulled randomly by our Jury Commission and then notifications and letters are mailed out.

Not all citizens are able to do their duty as jurors. Some do not even answer the call and others asked to be excused.

We should first make all attempts to serve before asking to be excused.

Obeying laws is something that we all must do for our society to run in an orderly and civil manner. First, we come together and decide how we want our society to function and then enact well thought-out laws that benefits all. We as citizens then must obey those laws to have a civil republic.

We must also stand against laws that are not in our best interest as a society and make sure those laws are removed from being enforced.

Volunteering in our republic is not just a calling, but one that must be done. We must stand up when needed and when called upon. This can be as an elected official, on a public board, as a member of an organization or even at an event to assist our communities.

This is one of the civic duties that all citizens should be striving to accomplish.

Attending school does not sound like a civic duty, but all citizens should strive to have a basic level of education. Our society has come up with what it believes that an individual would need to be a success and to benefit our society. Our nation believes this so much we also made it free to all.

Citizens should do their best to educate not just themselves, but their children as well to assist our nation for the present and the future.

Paying taxes is our way of investing in ourselves and to make our republic run effectively. We each must pay our fair share and be honest in the amount we must pay.

With that being said, we must also be diligent in how we use our tax dollars. We should question all government use of our money and make sure that our elected officials are being good stewards with the same.

Serving in the military or in the defense of our nation is the most-recognized civic duty. Our republic has instituted a draft and at this time only men age 18 to 25 who are citizens or are immigrants living in the United States are required to be registered. The government maintains the ability to reinstate the draft in case of a national emergency.

The United States military has been all-volunteer since 1973. Many citizens have given the ultimate price to this civic duty. Others have also stood up and were there if called upon. All who are serving or have served have protected our way of life and the defense of your Constitution.

All of us should strive to do as many civic duties as we can.

So, if you are not registered to vote, do so. Make plans to attend a public meeting and speak with your elected officials.

File your taxes, educate yourself and others and also step up and volunteer.

Kelly Hopkins is the Past All-State Post Commander for VFW Post 6710, President of the Clinton County Leadership Institute, and Chief Bailiff of the Clinton County Common Pleas Court.

Kelly Hopkins

Contributing columnist