- Ethan Getchell
Voice of Democracy: Why My Vote Matters
My vote is my voice. Every vote together is the voice of democracy. My vote and every vote matters because our country was founded on the voices of individuals, and the voice of each citizen is our power, our honor, our hope and our responsibility. Granted through our Constitution, voting is just one, small step in the entire democratic process that is the responsibility of every American. Why vote? Because from the small, daily, civic responsibilities come the inestimable privileges we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America.
My vote matters because it can continue to preserve freedom and build the life so many have sacrificed for me. My dad’s grandfather came on a ship from Germany with his mother and siblings to enjoy the privileges America held. I was born into this privilege, and I can vote to show my appreciation. My dad’s other grandfather served as a soldier in Vietnam, leaving his high school sweetheart to protect our freedom. I can vote to maintain the freedom he preserved. My mother’s grandfather suffered with lung cancer and PTSD after fighting in WWII; his wife worked in the airplane factory while he was fighting on the front lines in WWII. Today, I am living in the future they had hoped for as they dedicated their lives to peace and freedom. My vote can honor the lives of hundreds of thousands of brave men and women who have made sacrifices to ensure our peace and safety.
It is easy to think of American politics in terms of wars, economic trends, or generational issues, and to feel that one vote couldn’t possibly matter. But the truth is, one vote on every little millage, proposition, and referendum is our honor, our heritage, and our power. American politics has problems and plenty of division, but through it all, Americans have a voice, and the hope for our future is to face our problems, and use our voices to keep some privileges the same and to make changes when we need to protect our freedom and act to make laws or elect officials.
As Americans we enjoy freedom and our vote helps maintain that freedom. From electing George Washington as the first President of the United States to creating the constitutions of each state in the union; from the 15th amendment granting the very right to vote to every citizen regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” to the 19th amendment extending that right to include both sexes, every vote has been a voice, and those voices together create laws and elect individuals.
The strength of the United States is in its democratic values, its checks and balances, and its unity. We vote on issues and people. What is democracy if not people and issues? We must all have a voice in the issues and a stake in the people we choose to represent us. My vote matters because my voice is power. It might help determine what kind of healthcare my family and I will have, whether my right to bear arms is in jeopardy, or how my taxes will be allocated. I may help decide which supreme court justices will be appointed, or what immigration
policies will be in place. My voice may help determine our country’s policy on trade, war, the environment and the economy, even down to college costs and gas prices. My vote is my voice and my voice is my freedom. I don’t think there is any question of why my vote matters. The only question would be why anyone would abstain from exerting their power, their privilege as a citizen, and their voice, all contained in a simple vote.
About Voice of Democracy and Patriot Pen Programs
According to VFW Post 4090 Commander Bill Almy, “The Voice of Democracy and Patriot Pen program is the VFW's shining star when it comes to youth activities and programs. Voice of Democracy it's geared for high school level students to write essays and record their essays to be judged and screened at the post level with the opportunity to advance to District, State department and National level for total scholarship of $30,000 in college tuition to the winner at National level.”
The essays are normally two to three minutes long and the topic is chosen by the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization each year.
The Patriot Pen essay program is an opportunity for Middle School students to participate in a similar essay program. The topic again is chosen by the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization and the prize package is less than Voice of Democracy winners. The Patriot Pen program gives middle schoolers and opportunity to test their skills in the essay program and once they get to high school level participate in Voice or Democracy for greater Rewards.
The Portland Beacon has made arrangements with VFW Post 4090 to publish some of the submissions it received this year. The words, thoughts and ideas shared in the submissions are those of the author.