Saturday, November 1, 2008

Blog the Vote

The first year I was eligible to vote for president was the year I got married. I was twenty-one and the year was 1984. We lived in Virginia, but I was registered in Tennessee, and as the new spouse of an Air Force lieutenant, I could vote by absentee ballot. We voted in our home precinct in Knoxville.

Four years later, I voted by mail from Okinawa, Japan. In the fall of 1992, my ballot was postmarked "Montgomery, AL." In 1996, my ballot was sent from Stuttgart, Germany. In 2000, I mailed it from Newport, RI. In 2004, I voted from Goldsboro, NC, where we later changed our registrations to the local office.

Now that I'm back in Virginia, I once again mailed my ballot, this time to North Carolina. My husband still serves in the military. I think of the oath that he took 27 years ago: to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. As a military member, he may not campaign for a candidate, which is as it should be. Some members, as they reach high rank, even discontinue voting to maintain absolute neutrality in their service.

But most of the thousands of servicemen and women will vote, many by absentee ballot, some of them from war zones. Some pundits think of "the military" as a voting bloc. It is not. In twenty-seven years, I've met political views of all stripes. Your military defends the Constitution and this nation, not either political party.

As a member of a military family, I love it when communities support us with their kind words and generous actions, but I hate it when we have to tear up roots and move on. One thing always sustains me, and it's something that is confirmed with each new assignment: there is no "real" America. There is only the America that we all serve, each in his or her own way. And that America is the one that we vote for, we work for, and we risk it all for.

Please vote as your head and your heart and your vision for the next four to eight years counsel you. My husband, my daughter, and I already did.

For more views (or to join in!), read the Blog the Vote roundup, hosted by Colleen at Chasing Ray. Be sure to read her post about teaching American history to military personnel. Rock on, Colleen!


  1. What a great picture. Do those kids love their dad or what?

    Thanks so much for sharing. My post touches on one of your ideas a bit. It's coming soon!

  2. What a lovely and loving photograph-- your family's so obviously at home together, no matter where you're living.

    "...there is no "real" America. There is only the America that we all serve, each in his or her own way. And that America is the one that we vote for, we work for, and we risk it all for."

    YES, and so well-said!! I think this, in a more general sense, speaks to a universal truth that we can apply to each of our highest ideals. Our spirituality, for instance. Thanks for a provocative, inspiring post.

  3. Glad that you are part of Blog the Vote.

    Grins to you and yours! Look at that happy family!

  4. So glad you joined in, Sara. Great post... and yet another one that's making me work to hone mine!

  5. What a precious and fun family. Thank you for such a thoughtful post. I am reflecting on "there is no real America...only the one we serve in our own way". Powerful.

  6. Loved this post so much! Your list of absentee ballot postmarks was amazing. Thank you for these eloquent and inspiring words, and for sharing a wonderful photo!

  7. I'm glad that you and I can live in real Virginia. And like in Virginia, your vote in North Carolina will really, really Matter. This swing state thing is wild!

  8. I love this post and this picture and your sentiments, Sara. There is an energy out there today that is sure to serve us all...

  9. What an amazing voting history you've had!

  10. What a valiant voter. I really want to read Letters from Rapunzel, how fun!

  11. Beautiful family and beautiful story. Thanks so much!

  12. This is an incredible story--- I never knew military personnel could not run for office. Thank you for sharing this!


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