Memorial Day, Voting, and President Kennedy

Memorial Day saluteOn this Memorial Day, like many other Americans, I can’t help but reflect on the sacrifice those who serve in the armed forces make, and have made, to protect our borders, our people and what we value as a nation.

I have even felt a certain level of responsibility. After all, voting means you, the voter, has a say in choosing the person that may become the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and I have voted in every election since I was eligible.

The majority of freshmen entering college in the fall of 2016 will likely be eligible to vote in the 2016 presidential election and will find themselves in this very situation. Even before they finalize a major or career path, these students will have a say in what happens not only in their lives, but ours (their parents, teachers, and employers) and the impact will last for at least the next  4-8 years.

Freshmen: Voting is a very big deal

The beautiful thing about being able to vote is that, as a registered voter, your voice counts. So, freshmen, don’t give up your voice when you move to campus this fall. Here are 3 things you can do to make sure you’ll be able to cast your vote in the fall presidential election:

  1. Register to vote where you currently live. This way, you will at least have absentee ballot as an option if something prevents you from voting on campus or at a community precinct.
  2. If you will turn 18 after you enroll in the fall and before election day, contact the Student Government Association (SGA) or the county government office and find out what you need to do to register in your college town. You may be able to find this out via a college Facebook page, the college’s web site, or at orientation.
  3. For complete details on voter registration requirements in your state, start here at the US government’s page:

RELATED–> Where’d They Go to School: The 2016 Republican Presidential Candidates; The 2016 Democrat Presidential Candidates

To prepare Election Day, which will be Tuesday, November 8, 2016, start learning about the candidates, where they were educated, what they stand for and how current issues relate to your life right now, and where you may be four years from now.

When it comes to politics, try find balance between noise and knowledge.

Follow the candidates on social media. Tune in enough to become informed but not so much that campaign banter becomes an obsession.

My first influence: President John F. Kennedy

Sunday, May 29, 2016, was the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s birth. He would have been 69 years old. My emotional connection to President Kennedy goes all the way back to first grade. He was the first president I learned about in school. His portrait hung in Mrs. Sampson’s first-grade classroom and I always had the feeling the watching over us.

At home, my parents talked about Kennedy and his family often–not so much about the president’s politics, more about the life of the first family based on whatever the newspaper, magazines, or the evening news reported at that time.

Perhaps my fascination was so intense because his daughter, Caroline, and I were the same age and because my mother resembled First Lady, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy. People used to stop her on the street and tell her how much she looked like “Jackie.” I know my mom loved those compliments.

RELATED–> Where’d They Go to School: The U.S. First Ladies

My parents kept their politics private. I’m not even sure they discussed with each other how they voted in each election. I never heard either of them state whether they were Democrat or Republican, though I do remember Dad saying that he voted for the person, not the party.

The news of President Kennedy’s death hit my family hard. We all felt a tremendous sense of loss. I remember being sad and feeling sorry for Caroline and little brother, John Jr. Who would watch over us–them–now?

I’m sure this early fascination with the office of the president set some kind of standard or, at the very least, a direction that shaped my commitment to learn about the presidential candidates and to vote in every election.

What have been your influences? Will you head to college prepared to vote in your very first election?

 See also:

When Your Child Turns 18 and Goes to College: What Parents Need to Know – mock presidential election opportunity

Selective Service System – required for men, ages 18-25