Little more than a week ago, almost 150 million Americans went to the polls — either early or on Election Day — to elect a president, members of the House of Representatives, in some states, senators, a host of state officials and a multitude of local leaders. It took several days to learn who some of the victors are, and the presidency remains in dispute as President Donald Trump files suits in numerous places to contest the results.
Be that as it may, the real winners on Election Day Americans of every political stripe, belief and conviction. Just think, those of us who go to the polls — and we went in record numbers last week — have a chance to say who their leaders will be. If the people of the Bronx and Queens want Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as their representative in Congress that is their right. If the people of Central Texas prefer Republican Pete Session, well, that is our choice.
No one orders Americans to vote a certain way, and while the weeks and months before the election often were contentious, we still got to vote and have that vote matter.
Not many nations in the world can say the same thing. In many places, voting is a mere formality, with only one choice on the ballot.
Why do Americans enjoy such a special privilege?
Simply put it is because, over the centuries, millions of Americans have been protected by the brave men and women who have served in our armed forces. From before America was America all the way up to today, Americans have answered this country’s call. Some of them served in wartime, others when the guns are silent, but still they served — in the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force or the Coast Guard. Almost 1,150,000 of American men and women in the service died during wartime, either on the fields of battle or in-theater from other causes.
Many of those who came home from service continue to suffer from several, often-debilitating, injuries.
Today is the day we honor those fellow Americans who donned the uniform and vowed to protect us all. It is only right we do so. One day a year is the very least we can do for those who served us in the military.
Many of us no doubt will be at work as usual today, but if you know a co-worker, a neighbor, a friend, a family member who served, please extend your gratitude — with proper social distancing, of course. Visit the grave of someone who died in combat. Tour our magnificent Veterans Park. When you see the list of names on the walls at the park, give thanks for each and every one of them.
Because so many Americans served — and continue to serve — we remain free, we retain the right to choose our leaders and we can enjoy life with our family and friends.
Thank you veterans, for your service. You honored us then.
You honor us still.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!