I have always thought of myself as very patriotic. My grandparents, who raised their family in the depression of the 1930s, always talked about the American dream, that is the ability to achieve what you are willing to work for, and I bought into it hook, line and sinker. I had a belief that this was achieved because of our unique form of government allowed for self-expression and self-direction. There is usually a tear in my eye as we say the Pledge of Allegiance as I think of what this country has done for me and my family and just what our responsibilities are in turn.
This sense of patriotism was nudged a little in 2003 when my son’s Marine Corps unit was called up to go to Iraq to work for the freedoms of that country’s people. As he was recently married, I worried about him and his sweet wife and just what their future would bring. While he was living in Arizona I would seldom know where he was or what he was doing, but on the day that the war started, I knew he was crossing the Kuwaiti border into Iraq with his brothers-in-arms to work for someone else’s freedom.
Shortly after he came home, it was announced that Iraq would have its first free election. So, in January 2005, I remember Iraqi citizens walking for miles, standing for hours in long lines and then holding up their purple forefinger that indicated that they, for the first time ever, had voted for the leadership of their country. There were nearly 7,000 candidates for 275 seats in their national governing councils — and to think we get confused at our number of candidates and issues! I was so proud! What a grand ideal that my son had sacrificed for and my sense of patriotism was nudged back into place.
Well, we have elections coming as well. It is our right and privilege to participate in determining the course of our community, state and nation —and yes, our school district.
In the primary election, only 23 percent of the registered voters in Chandler bothered to cast a ballot. How sad that is to me. Men and women have fought for and perhaps died for that right. We have until October 6 to register to vote for the November election and I hope all will. Though you might not agree with my candidate or the issues I believe in, the outcome must surely be better when we all participate.
Our school district and many of our neighboring districts have important issues on the ballot. I would love to tell you how to vote, but of course I won’t. I trust you will study and learn, make a phone call or two and use this amazing privilege to vote.
Annette Auxier is a member of the Chandler Unified School District governing board.