The first time I ever voted was in the presidential election of 1992. Lines stretched around the building and we were told to expect waits of several hours. It just added to the excitement for me.
I was a couple of months into my first Real Job. I even remember what I was wearing on that momentous day! A black wool pencil skirt, a creamy satin blouse with long puffed sleeves, a gold scarf tied around my waist, black stockings and black pumps (we had only recently escaped the 80s).
This was before smartphones, kindles, ipods, so there wasn’t much to do in the line besides wait. Me being me, I struck up a conversation with the couple in front of me. A husband and wife, retirement age, African American. Neither was taller than my shoulder. He wore a flat driving cap and she wore her glasses on a gold chain. Somebody’s grandmama and grandaddy in Columbus, Georgia.
“This is my first time voting! I’m excited.”
“Oh, that IS good to hear!” he said. “We never miss an election.”
“What was the first election you voted in?”
She looked at him and he looked at her and they both did a little recollecting. She snapped her fingers and said, “FDR! Yes, that’s right. FDR’s second term.”
We spent the rest of that long wait talking about the history I had learned in books and they had influenced with their votes. I’ll never forget those two citizens and how their simple dedication to using their votes taught me about the responsibility and joy of being an American citizen.
I hope you’ll make time to vote today. It hasn’t always been a right. It hasn’t always been easy. But it has always been important.