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Each time I go to the polls I feel a certain sense of pride

I don’t know what it is about the act of casting my vote that fills me with such pride, but without fail, each time I go to the polls, whether it’s for a simple amendment vote or a national election to vote for our next president, I am usually grinning from ear to ear when I walk in the doors of my polling place.

My pride in being able to vote probably stems from my upbringing and the fact that I was taught from a very young age the importance of making my voice heard.

I can remember going with my mom or dad to the polls when I was young and watching the pride they had in the process and seeing firsthand the value they placed on voting, and I have always taken that to heart.

So this being my mind set, I was already filled with pride as I walked into my polling place Tuesday morning to exercise my freedom and right to vote for the national, state and local candidates of my own choosing.

I was greeted by friendly poll place volunteers and was proud to see there were already 133 people before me who had voted.

I took my ballot and sat down with my black pen and began marking the choices I have so carefully and thoughtfully researched over the past several months, including the 11 amendments on the back of the ballot.

Once I was finished and had turned in my ballot, I happily received my “I Voted” sticker and was busy trying to figure out where on my clothing I wanted to put it so it could be seen for the rest of the day.

Then, as I was getting into my car, I noticed something that made me stop short.

An elderly man was just getting out of the car parked next to mine.

Now, I had seen several elderly people making their way in to vote Tuesday morning, one who was even accompanied by his home health nurse and a walker yet he was still there to place his vote.

But this particular man was wearing a World War II veteran hat atop his smiling face that was creased with laugh lines.

As I looked at this man about to enter through the doors and cast his vote, I got so emotional at the sight of this courageous veteran who literally fought for the freedom for me to do what I had just done.

I thought where our country would be if not for those World War II veterans who fought for our country after we were attacked.

Would this be Hitler’s America right now? Would we even be able to cast a vote or have a choice in what happened to us?

And then my mind ran over all the other veterans who have fought and served.

Where would we be as a nation without all of them – every last one of them?

Tears sprang up in the corners of my eyes and started to brim over the edges, and if I hadn’t been blinded by my emotion, I probably would have ran to give this complete stranger a hug and thank him for his service.

The image stayed with me as I wiped at my tears and made my way to work, and it stayed with me the rest of the day.

This local veteran, this complete stranger, probably has no idea how his simple act of voting affected me, but I have a good feeling the patriotism, the love for God and country, the dedication and loyalty that this one man represented for me on Tuesday will be something that stays with me for many years to come.