Proud to be American and vote

Published 2:27 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Early this morning, I sat in the quiet of my house enjoying my first cup of coffee and thinking about the day ahead. I like this part of the day when it’s new and full of possibilities. It is my time to find a bit of silence and peace before I begin the business of everyday living.

Today, maybe more than usual, I wanted the serenity of that silence, the calm of the morning. I knew wall-to-wall media coverage of the election was only a few hours away. And I knew myself well enough to know I’d be watching the results roll in with interest and some excitement, and maybe a little nail-biting anxiousness.

So I wanted some downtime before it all started, a chance to just be quiet and let go of everything going on in the world outside.

After finishing off my pot of coffee, I prepared to head to the polls, not a simple thing since it requires getting a 17-year-old autistic child, who sees voting as a disruption of her usual schedule, ready to go as well.

I pulled on a favorite shirt, one with “PEACE” written on it in bright colors. I figured Election Day was a good day for wearing it and for thinking about peace.

At my polling location, I recognized several smiling faces among the poll workers, folks I’ve known for a while. It didn’t take long for me to mark my ballot, get my “I Voted” sticker and head back home.

Voting is something I’ve done many times in my adult life, but somehow it felt different on this day — more important, more special. Driving home I felt a deep sense of appreciation and connection to other Americans who were also casting their votes.

I couldn’t resist the urge to surf the Web a bit and see what might be going on across the country on this history-making day. I saw reports of long lines of voters, some waiting in the rain, others standing patiently for hours in order to express themselves through their votes.

I read comments from excited first time voters and from senior citizens who said they’d never seen so many people at their polling places. One voter described the atmosphere in his line as almost festive. He said someone even brought juice and sandwiches to share with everyone.

Looking at pictures of Americans of all colors, all sizes, all ages and I’m sure all religions, cultures and economic situations standing shoulder to shoulder at the polls, it was hard to describe the feeling I had. It was at once pride and a deep love for this great country.

This campaign season has not been an easy one. Harsh words flew back and forth between camps, and even between families and friends. But in the end it all comes back to this day, this opportunity to participate in the grand experiment of our forefathers — this thing we call democracy.

By the time these words appear in print hopefully we will know our next president’s name.

Tomorrow as I sit in my quiet house with my coffee, I’ll remember today, remember how it felt to be a part of something so amazing. I will be thankful for the blessing of being a citizen of these United States of America, and I’ll be looking forward to the possibilities of a new day.