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Do Your Duty and Vote, LGBTQ Soldier

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We can turn this disaster around.

For years, my great-grandmother Sudie was the postmaster of her small - very small - town in New Freeport, Penn., buried in the foothills of southwestern Pennsylvania, less than 10 miles from the West Virginia border.

As the story goes, one day a friend of hers walked into the post office, and glanced up at the picture of Dwight Eisenhower on the wall. "Sudie," she said. "You're such a big Democrat, why do you have a picture of Eisenhower on your wall?" My great-grandmother, with her down-home wit balanced by an earnest seriousness, looked at the picture and said, "That's not a picture of Eisenhower, that's a picture of our president."

I highly doubt grandma Sudie, who I loved and adored, would have a picture of Trump on her wall. She was as honest as they come, feisty and fiercely patriotic. There is no question she would be appalled at what's happened to her country during these last four years. I vividly remember going to her home on Main Street, just a few doors down from the post office, and always seeing the American flag waving from her front porch. Flying the stars and stripes was the right thing to do.

She loved her Democratic presidents, no one more than Franklin Roosevelt. She gave me the scrapbook that she kept on him while he was president, replete with headlines from the local newspaper, Democrat Messenger, that blared "Roosevelt Elected Again" and sadly, "Roosevelt Dead." She also gave me programs from the Democratic conventions she attended as a proud delegate, and all her political buttons, dating back to Franklin's cousin Theodore.

She sensed my interest in politics at an early age, probably because I could name all the presidents, including the years they served and their middle initials, when I was just six years old. Trust me, it was not a homework assignment. When her mother, my great-great grandmother, turned 100 years old and received a congratulatory letter (which at the time I thought was real) from President Nixon, she gave that to me too. She definitely helped inspire my now obsessive interest in politics, and the reason why I never miss the opportunity to vote.

I know one thing grandma Sudie would be doing this year, and that would be casting her vote, at the crack of dawn, likely first in line, because that's what she did, and what she considered a revered right.

I asked her once, when I was about 10 years old or so, if I could vote, and I remember her saying something to the effect of, "You will be old enough someday soon, and when you are, make sure you always vote." But I do remember what she said next, "It is what we have to do." If grandma Sudie told you to do something, you damn well better do it.

Watching the news coverage of the voting lines around the country, and speaking to, and seeing on my social feeds, the number of people already voting this year has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. What I'm a bit surprised at, perhaps humbled is the more appropriate word, is the seriousness of the pictures and stories posted - and there have been more than I can count - of my friends and family who have voted. The images of them displaying their ballot envelopes or their "I Voted" stickers are not gleeful. There have been some. But overwhelmingly, they are solemn, dignified, and exuding determination.

When I voted, it definitely felt different this time. As passionate as I am about politics and writing about it, the excitement for voting this year was replaced with an urgency. Granted, I was still happy since It was about time; however, when I held the ballot in my hand, and when I filled in those ovals, it felt like a crucial act, coupled with a tinge of anxiety. For the most part, it felt like everything that grandma Sudie loved and adored about her country was on the line this year, and I damn well better do something to help save it for her and us.

Hopefully, most of you have voted, but if you haven't, you must. And if you know someone who hasn't, or can't, help them out. We all have our own lives which take many forms, and can be reasons for not going the extra mile. Some of us have children. Some of us work more than one job. Some of us are homebound and lonely. Some of us may feel that we are insignificant, and that our voice won't make a difference. Or, that we don't follow politics, and aren't familiar with the issues, so we don't feel the need to vote. And some are frightened of the pandemic.

Whatever your reason, please put it aside, and do whatever you can to exercise your right. Your kids will see a good example. Your bosses will better understand the imperative, and give you time off. If you are alone, find someone to help you - there are many eager to assist. You are not insignificant, and you should know enough about what's been happening these past few years to do the right thing. If the pandemic scares you, someone will help you make your vote safe. There has never been a moment in our history when your voice is more needed than now.

In fact, a 102-year-old wheelchair bound woman in North Carolina voted for the first time in her life last Friday. She said she felt happy to be still alive to do it this year.

To see that over two-thirds of the electorate who voted in 2016 has already cast their ballots is profound. The country is on course to surpass 150 million votes for the first time. Doesn't it just make you want to go vote too if you already haven't? Because if everyone else is doing it, you must follow suit? Isn't gratifying to say, "I voted too?" Fighting against all the roadblocks that have been thrown up by Republicans, and defiantly casting your vote? To be a part of saving our democracy? After all, like grandma Sudie said, "It is what we have to do."

Go to vote.org or glaad.org if you have any questions or need any help.

John Casey is The Advocate's editor at large.

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John Casey

John Casey is senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. The columns include interviews with Sam Altman, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Colman Domingo, Jennifer Coolidge, Kelly Ripa and Mark Counselos, Jamie Lee Curtis, Shirley MacLaine, Nancy Pelosi, Tony Fauci, Leon Panetta, John Brennan, and many others. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the Nobel Prize-winning UN IPCC, and with four of the largest retailers in the U.S.
John Casey is senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. The columns include interviews with Sam Altman, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Colman Domingo, Jennifer Coolidge, Kelly Ripa and Mark Counselos, Jamie Lee Curtis, Shirley MacLaine, Nancy Pelosi, Tony Fauci, Leon Panetta, John Brennan, and many others. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the Nobel Prize-winning UN IPCC, and with four of the largest retailers in the U.S.