This fall, as we are peppered with replays of the hideous scenes of evil perpetrated upon our country last year, we pause to celebrate the lives of those lost forever. We honor their memory and their sacrifice, and we express gratitude for the thousands of organized and spontaneous acts of kindness and courage shown by people all over the world.
We have shown our determination and the steely resolve to bounce back. We have accepted the certain knowledge of just how precious each moment can be. We have experienced at a new level our lives, our loving families, our challenging work, our public discourse and yes, thank God, our form of government.
While the military response continues abroad, and while public safety measures are put in place at home to protect us from the further outrages we unfortunately are told to expect, it is time to consider what response the ordinary citizen can make to this unspeakable assault upon our way of life.
How can the citizens of this great democracy respond to such an attack on our very core values and right to exist? I suggest that we rededicate ourselves to our democracy by taking advantage of one of the most empowering rights of a free society and participating in one of its most basic rituals – Americans can vote.
It is with this idea in mind that the American Bar Association on this 9/11 elected to cosponsor Freedom’s Answer, the citizen involvement response to those who want to destroy our democracy.
Freedom’s Answer, a project of Youth E-Vote, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign being led by high school students this fall to maximize voter turnout in federal elections. Its goal for 2002 – to achieve the largest-ever voter turnout in a non-presidential year as an unmistakable message to the world that America and freedom are alive and well. Starting this 9/11, America’s high school students began recruiting their parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends to pledge to vote to honor America’s servicemen and women who are risking their lives every day for our freedom, including our right to vote. Ask your principal to be sure your local high school takes part.
I encourage all Americans to take these lessons learned from 9/11, to harness the energy and determination we each feel in response to this assault on our fundamental values and apply that energy to improving the democracy of the United States of America. We can do that in a variety of ways, and we can start by answering the call of a project led by the nation’s youth, Freedom’s Answer. Register and vote, America, and demonstrate to those who want to destroy us just how strong and vibrant our democratic system can be.
Also see Discuss Your Rights