A politician thinks of the next election;
a statesman thinks of the next generation.

[James Freeman Clarke]

I was standing in the rain when they unlocked the doors to the polls at six this morning. There is no reason I need to be there that early—I work in my home office and set my own hours. But I like that group of people who come to vote before they have to be at work by seven.

I stood in line behind a Marine Corps, Korean War veteran (it was written on his cap). The topic of conversation among the voters was neighborhoods as we tried to figure out the precinct map so we’d go to the proper table to check in. The consensus was identifiably American, “Who do those martinets in the neighborhood association think they are to tell us what we can do with our own property?” We were all from different neighborhoods and there wasn’t a person in the group who looked like a rebel. I chuckled because I’d had the same thought even though I don’t break any of the association rules.

Gone are the booths with the curtains and the paper ballots. One man needed help through the whole process—he looked at the computer screen with terror. When it was my turn, I stood there and imagined that mine was the deciding vote—the one that would tip the balance of power. Then I looked around the room and remembered why I love being an American. Every face was different. I have a feeling that every place in the world was represented by someone there. I felt like, as an American, I was a child of all cultures.

I love election day. I celebrate it as a memorial day. I vote for one reason—folks have died so I can spend five minutes at a polling machine casting a vote with which they might have disagreed.