When my dad was living out his final days and slipping deeper into dementia, he would repeat, over and over, stories about important points in his life.
I would listen closely.
The one he was fondest of discussing was his time as a soldier during the Korean Conflict. He would talk about a firefight he was involved in one night and how the next morning, “I was at a hill and I was able to look over into China.”
For a black man from the old Frogmore section of Baton Rouge, that was as good as it got in the 1950s.
It was a story he had told proudly for many years prior. In some of those conversations, he would say his fighting in Korea and putting his life on the line for the United States had earned him the right to vote.
He also talked occasionally (and sometimes I witnessed) how, despite his valor, he was treated horribly, solely because of his race. But, he dealt with that, putting it aside, especially in the weeks leading up to an election.
When he donned his election attitude, Edward Rose was ready to talk to whomever about the candidate he was supporting. He had finished 11th grade, but you would have thought he was an Ivy League graduate the way he would have a binder full of information in his head supporting his candidate and an equal amount against the competition.
In my early teens, I didn’t understand his exuberance. But as I got older, I got swept up in it. He made you feel that his one vote and his effort could and would have a bearing on who would get elected.
Sometimes, he worked hard, and his candidate didn’t win. For a couple days he seemed crushed, like someone had sucker-punched him. He had put so much time and effort into the campaign and to no avail.
But he would rebound, I guess feeling that, even in defeat, he had been a genuine part of the process.
Sometime late Tuesday night, America will know how it made history. We will either re-elect an African American president for the first time ever or we will vote out of office an African American president for the first time ever.
About 50 years from now, both may be footnotes in history as the nation becomes more comfortable with the idea that the president does not have to be a white male.
Whomever you like, President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, please vote. Also, if you know someone who needs transportation or some kind of helping hand to get to the polls, please be that help or find an agency that can assist.
To sit out an election would make sense of 1880s drama critic George Jean Nathan’s quote that, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”
Please vote. Do it for my dad. He fought his way through North Korea until he was able to “look over into China” to solidify his right to vote. All you have to do is go a couple blocks.
Ed Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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