Editors note: Sherri Evans-Lawton is the widow of Army Staff Sgt. Mark Lawton of Hayden, who was killed Aug. 16, 2003, while serving in Iraq.
Sherri L. Evans-Lawton
I wonder, as our country's Independence Day came and went, how many moms, dads, grandparents and other adults stopped and not only reflected what this day means to them and other Americans, but also took a moment to explain to a child or young person what this holiday is for, and why we celebrate it.
As I reflect on those rights and freedoms that are guaranteed to us by our nation's historical documents and our U.S. soldiers, I can't help but wonder how many people stop and reflect and rejoice that we have them because of the sacrifices all our soldiers make.
My husband died trying to help bring some of those rights and freedoms to others. And though there have been those who have said to me that Mark did not die defending America or our freedoms, but those of others, I would like to give a gentle reminder of Sept. 11, 2001. That was a day when others came into our country and tried to defeat us. They buckled us to our knees and shot us through our hearts, but as a nation we joined hands, pulled together and prayed for others and their loss. We didn't like the feeling of vulnerability they made us experience. We didn't like the feelings of loss and helplessness and grief we felt all across America, but we pulled together to do our part to help. If we do not go out to try to stop the madness of a few, those few will attack again, with the same deadly aim as before.
It is easy for all of us to complain and comment in retrospect of the job our presidents have done, but how many of us have stopped to appreciate how our presidents have to try to make a decision for the good of all. One person can never make a decision that makes all of us happy.
As we look toward our nation's presidential elections this year, I pray every American will go out to vote. After all, my husband and many, many others, are serving or have served to ensure our way of life.
If it were not for the Americans in this country who are willing to sacrifice time with their families, a portion of their own freedom and, at times, their lives, we would not have the rights we often take for granted.
As I look toward this year's elections, I remind myself that my right to vote goes beyond "my right." It is my duty and responsibility. If all Americans looked at elections more as a duty and responsibility than merely as their right, I wonder whether more people would take the time to help shape and control the nation by voting for the president.
Those of you who are tempted to stay home the day of our elections, think for one moment of all those who have served, are serving, have lost a quality of life because of their service of this country and those who gave the ultimate and will never come home. Last but not least, think of my two sons ages 4 and 2, and the hundreds more just like them who will never get to know their parents.
As you step into your polling booth, I would ask one more favor of all Americans. Please do not vote in anger. Vote for the person you think can lead our nation to be strong and independent. Remember, we may not always like all the decisions our leader makes, but he is trying to do what is best for millions of people.
I think that if our president has faith in God, a love for this great nation and its people, at least he will be headed down the right road. I pray God will guide the people of this nation as we go forward into this election year.
Please remember Mark can't vote this year. He can't help decide who will build a stronger better nation for his two boys. Help me in honoring our soldiers by doing our duty and responsibility by voting for the president that will help guide and shape the nation our children will inherit.
Your vote can make a difference.