In the last election cycle, I tried to convince citizens to register and vote as a way to show appreciation to our military service members and veterans. At that time, I stated that I would find it difficult to express gratitude to anyone in uniform if I did not vote. By not participating in the election process, would I be depreciating the service rendered by our military members?
Indirectly, the recent history of our military gives me yet another reason to try to persuade readers to vote on or before Election Day (May 6 in Ohio and May 20 in Pennsylvania). Many news outlets have made us aware of the elections in Afghanistan in the past few weeks. The voting there is so primitive that Afghans will not learn the results of their elections until late April or early June.
However, just getting to the voting places was difficult for many of the citizens of that nation. The Taliban is back, despite our military's efforts to put that extremist group out of action. The resurgent Taliban threatened the lives of both office seekers and voters in that war torn country. Voters were warned that ''terrible things'' would happen to them as they waited in queues to cast ballots. Women, especially, were targets of the Taliban's ire because it considers them less than citizens and incapable of voting.
So, we read the news items about explosives at polling places, but the Afghan people in huge numbers exercised their new right to elect leaders of their choosing.
The stories of individual Afghan women and men were amazing. No one has ever threatened me or in any way prevented me from going to the polls in Trumbull County twice a year for the past 42 years. I have to wonder if I would have been as brave as the Afghan people for whom our military women and men fought. Although I did not need further persuasion to cast a ballot in May, the spirit and patriotism of those people will be in my mind when I open the door of a very peaceful polling place in Hubbard to engage in my right as a citizen of our nation.
I hope "huge numbers" in our region vote for another reason. I will use a second current event to emphasize my desire to make our lawmakers in Columbus more aware of the real people whom they serve. I use the adjective "real" because I believe that too many officeholders pay lip service to the whole public; the only "people" whom they serve are avid members of their own political party and the corporate lobbyists with money to offer them.
The current event of which I write involves the recent court decision to allow student athletes at Northwestern University to be considered as state workers with certain rights. Within two weeks of that decision, the State of Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation forbidding student athletes in our state universities any such recognition.
First of all, I did not realize that the student athletes at our state universities were such a threat to our health, welfare and safety. Second, our legislators are usually very slow moving to enact new laws. Yet, in this case, the committee work, the study, the media scrutiny, and the debating apparently were done in fewer than 10 work days.
Those darned college kids. I should have known they were up to no good. Heck, I thought most of them were gone on Spring Break. But, they were actually concocting ways to be given rights when I thought they were concocting beach beverages.
Thankfully, our House of Representatives stifled that notion. Those college kids will have to pay for their own problems if concussions and other athletic injuries adversely affect them in later years. Imagine them, thinking that their health was more important than our entertainment.
I can't blame politicians solely. As a citizen, I have to be more aware, more well read, and more prepared to understand all issues in our society. Voting is one of the ways I fulfill my role.
Williams is a Hubbard resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org