Most states have instituted a “Vote in Honor of a Veteran” program. People decide to vote in memory and to honor the service of specific members of the armed forces who have served overseas. This is a great idea: men and women in uniform deserve our respect and honor for all they have done in service to our country. (Although fully funding veterans services would be a much more meaningful way to honor them, but I digress….) And recognizing individuals who are otherwise anonymous is a good way to take note of the fact that the battles are fought and won by many people, most of whom go unrecognized by anyone.*
But there are a lot of people who were a lot more directly involved in the fight for the right to participate in democracy.
Or in honor of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
In honor of Fannie Lou Hamer.
In honor of Medgar Evers.
In honor of the James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Shwerner.
In honor of every legislator at the federal and state level who voted for the Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-Fourth or Twenty-Sixth Amendments, or the Voting Rights Act.
But most of all, in honor of those men who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to bring forth this bizarre experiment in representative democracy which has managed, somehow, to survive for over two centuries.
*I am totally serious when I say I think our veterans need to be honored more than they are; it’s just that I think a far better way to do that is to a) actually pay them decently when they’re serving and b) provide decent benefits for after they leave, and for their families if they should be killed or disabled and c) fully funding Veterans’ services and d) not sending them off to quagmires with no rhyme or reason. I also have issues with the idea that we subcontract out the protection of freedom to the military, when many of the gravest dangers to freedom have historically lain right within our own borders. But that’s a post for another day.