Lead, Follow, or get the Hell out of my way, Mr. President!
I was off yesterday as I was performing one of the two most important jobs any American can do. I was working the polls, yes as a paid volunteer. Up at 0400 hours, opened the polls at 0630 hours, maned my position until closing at 1930 hours and after doing the paperwork, machine breakdown and truck loading home at 2137 hours. It was a wonderful and fulfilling day! Of course the other most important job is Jury Duty. Being the brat of a Cop and serving as one myself I am seldom called and even more seldomer used. (I love using non-words, it drives the educated NUTS) as a juror.
I'm not going to complain about the lack of a decision by President Obama. We all know where I and most of my followers stand. I am going to write this evening about a truly moving experience I had yesterday. Not about the day but of one incident I had the honor and privilege to observe and assist with.
Late in the afternoon a couple came in that I was told would need some assistance in voting. We have a machine that is set up for persons with hearing and sight disabilities. I made sure it was available and went to assist the couple. I was greeted by a couple who by everyone there agreed was late 80's or early 90's. Let me reset this a little bit. In Ohio we have absentee voting. You can simply request a ballot be mailed to you and return it by election day and your vote will be counted. He are two people who rejected that idea and made the effort to "go to the polls".
As I approached the table where the couple were supplying the proper identification to proceed to the voting machine I heard the gentleman say, "Honey, you know, you need to sign right here." He then gingerly began to help her find the block where she needed to sign to vote. He had to tell her several times to sign her name. She turned and looked at me and said "Brrr, it's cold out here". We were in doors. She would stare and he would try to get her to write her name and finally she made some scrawling that resembled the signature in the box next to it. She didn't have a walker so I and the gentleman named, William, escorted her to the appropriate machine. We were able to get her to sit down without to much trouble. She looked at William and asked who I was. He just replied he is here to help you vote, Nellie. "Vote? Vote, for what?"
It was quite obvious by this time she was suffering from dementia. As the time passed I watched William and Nellie from a safe distance. He would talk with her and help her press the button's on the voting machine to cast her votes for the various issues and people. Over and over again he would patiently explain and re-explain they were voting and what she had to do.
William helped Nellie vote which took about 30 minutes. A process that most people completed in 5 to 7 minutes to complete. He quietly kneeled beside her and voted himself. This took him and extended period of time also, but not nearly as long as Nellie. When I saw he was done I approached and offered my assistance as Nellie was very unsteady getting out of the chair and William was a little unsteady also. I escorted them to the parking lot where we carefully got Nellie in the car. Here's the hard part.
I notice the license plate on the car. It said POW. In Ohio we have specialty plates. With proper documentation you can have Veteran, Retired ARMY, etc on your license plate. William's read simply read POW. I asked him if that was his plate and he replied yes. I was a POW for 18 months in Germany. My father was in WWII and I felt a little close to William at this time. I extended my hand and simply said "Thank you so very much for your service, sir." He replied he was not an Officer but thanked me and shook my hand. He then told me Nellie was in the Air Force also and had retired along with him years ago. I remembered the little blue baseball hat she was wearing when she entered the building. it said Air Force. William again thanked me for my help and said it was nice to meet a young man (I'm 61)who was polite to him and his Nellie. I again thanked him and told him to thank Nellie for here service from me. He assured me he would.
Together he and his bride of 64 years left and I walked back into the building. I could feel the emotion building in my chest and tears welling in my eyes. Two huge emotions had taken me over in those few short minutes. This could have been my father, also a WWII Veteran. Thank G-d he was not a POW. He was in the Philippines. Then a flash of my Gretchen came over me. I wonder if I would have been strong enough and have the patience that William had should she had be in that situation. As I type this I again question myself. Would I, could I be William? Of course we will never know. This couple was one. Complete and true dedication to on another. Truly a love that knew no bounds.
To regain my composure I simply slowed down my walk and returned back to the building. I had a job to do, not nearly to the extent William had but one as important. Yesterday, thousand of Poll Workers got up early, worked all day and got home late for on thing. FREEDOM, Years ago a young man name William most likely got up early, worked all day, and found himself as Prisoner of War, for one thing FREEDOM. One morning a petite young Air Force woman got up, probably worked all day to hear her young husband did not return after his flight. She continued her work November 3, 2009 as she voted for one thing, FREEDOM.
"Freedom isn't Free" is not just a motto. For some it's a way of life.
Am I up to the standards of William and Nellie? I don't know. I hope I am. Are you?