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Neighbor to Neighbor: Election Day can help us appreciate the USA

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We, in this country, are more fortunate than many, because we have a choice - we can express our personal preferences with anonymity, in the voting booth, if we so desire, or we can talk about our choices in public, without fear of government retribution.

As a poll inspector, I recently received a copy of "The Election Connection" Volume 11, Number 3, Winter 2000, a publication of the Board or Elections of the City of New York. The first article, "Our Declaration of Independence," began: "We think we have a hard life? Sometimes it does us good to reflect on history and be thankful for what we have here in the U.S.A." The editor, Naomi R. Bernstein, went on to say that someone had sent her an item which told what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, which she then passed on. I can tell you that every one or them paid a very heavy price for the precious legacy they left for us. I don't have the space here for the much of the article, but here are the last two sentences. "Remember: freedom is never free. It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin."

Last Thursday, I was disappointed to hear, at the Federation of Laurelton Block Association's monthly meeting, that there was a question as to whether the meeting should begin with the Pledge or Allegiance because some have raised objections. Some people apparently object to the word "God" being included, and some apparently feel that "with liberty and justice for all" is a false statement. Nevertheless, we did start with the Pledge.

Year after year, there are those who campaign against "The Star Spangled Banner" as our national anthem. At some meetings and other public events I have attended, we have been told to stand for the singing of "The Black National Anthem." replacing "The Star Spangled Banner." Still others would opt for "America the Beautiful" or "God Bless America." One objection often voiced is that it is too hard to sing. Tough! Life is not going to be everlasting here on earth, nor is it promised that we will all have everything we want handed to us on a silver platter. We must learn to adapt, to strengthen ourselves by sometimes doing the necessary, honorable things that are not always easy. Getting out the vote is not always easy, nor is it always easy getting people to obey the law.

Candidates for public office spend a lot of time and money trying to "sell us their wares." Even they sometimes break the law, disrespecting the communities they target for votes by posting illegally all over public property. New CDs and other things are advertised in this same obnoxious fashion, and have even been known to be disrespectful enough to put their posters on veterans' memorials. Shame on all of them. They certainly do not sell to me that way, as you probably have guessed.

Some time ago, I tried to buy a new American flag. I went to store after store in this area, only to be told, "No one asks for American flags any more." Flags of other countries were being flown, even on vehicles, but our Stars and Stripes were, all too often, not to be seen - unless it was being desecrated (apparently without threat of punishment). That is one freedom (like some others), that I think should be changed back to the way it was

Others disagree with me about that, and about my belief that everyone would benefit if English were made the official language of this country and non-English speaking people were required to learn that language before being welcomed as new citizens.

One step in the right direction would be, then, to have all signage in English with, in specific case), a translation in an alternate language. The result, I think, would be better understanding, increased education for anyone who studied the sign, and, hopefully the realization that we really do want to work together to improve what we have already.

By the time this is published, I will have voted. If you didn't vote, I would think you made a terrible mistake, but that is your right.

I do hope, though, that everyone will appreciate what we have here.

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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