Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

A Walk In The Park

Today is election day.  As someone who makes his living in the political arena, I understand the unique opportunity we have in this country to shape policy by electing the leaders of the nation, the state, and the local government.  This is the last year in Seattle where we will actually go off to a polling place to cast a ballot.  Next year Washington elections will be conducted entirely by mail-in ballots.  I'm a bit saddened by that.  I always have enjoyed going off to the polling place to cast my ballot -- maybe I'm a little old-fashioned that way, as I'm in the distinct minority.  The majority of voters in Washington already do mail-in ballots.  I remember as a kid doing going with my Mom to the Elementary School I attended which was our local polling place, and when I went to school there, election day was so cool.  We always conducted "mock" elections, and used sample big paper ballots that you marked with an "X", just like the grown ups did.  I couldn't wait to be able to do that myself, and I registered the day I turned 18, even though it wasn't an election year.  I cast my first ballot in the REPUBLICAN primary in Utah in 1980 for, George H.W. Bush.  I know, I know.... it was a long time ago.  I wasn't very smart back then.   Then I voted for Ronald Reagan in the General Election.  My Mother often jokes that she can handle me being gay, it's that I'm not a Republican that hurts her.

Probably the main reason Tony and I bought this house almost 12 years ago is the fact it backs into a woodlands.  It's actually a big "park" that the City owns, but has not developed and left in it's natural state.  There are trails through it, and a salmon creek, but that's about it.  We have lots of wildlife, including a few coyotes who howl at night and cause Lucy and Abbey to answer back.  One of the trails leads from the house down through the park along the stream and right to the neighborhood polling place, so I figured it would be a nice walk to reflect and enjoy one last time.
I would have liked to ride the motorcycle down -- nothing like showing up at a church polling place on a big Harley Chopper with a leather jacket on to scare the old ladies who work there.  However the walk in the woods was nice.  It was cool, a bit damp, with soft leaves, and that wonderful smell of fresh air, pine, and "woods".  I'm very fortunate to live where I do,  and be able to walk through something like this setting to get to my polling place in the middle of a large urban area.  And I'm even more fortunate to live in a place where we do participate and take advantage of our birthright to self-government.  I'm always moved by Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and the words he spoke:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.   But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

men are created equal, and the election today gives me hope that we will indeed "have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth." 

The walk to the voting booth through the woods confirmed that, and tomorrow, God willing, our long national nightmare will be over.


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