Today is November 6th, 2012: Election Day. Two days ago, November 4th, I stood on pier 12 at Norfolk Naval Station awaiting the arrival of the USS Enterprise. It was the last time that the Enterprise would return from deployment. It is slated to be decommissioned and scrapped after a half-century in the service.
It was cold, breezy, and crowded. I was surrounded by people who have given up part of their lives, their families, and their hearts to send their sailors off for the last 9 months. They arrived swaddled in blankets, carrying welcome home banners, hot beverages, and bouquets of roses.
The scene was full of new mothers eager to introduce their newborns to their fathers for the first time. Parents, grandparents, and siblings eagerly awaiting the return of brothers, sisters, and children. They were tearful with joy when the ship came into sight while they waved flags, pompoms and welcome home banners. It was like being in the end-zone at the Superbowl with a stadium filled with cheerleaders all pulling for the same team. Literally: ‘the away team’.
It was more than a humbling experience. To see children run to their mothers and fathers for the first time in nearly a year was both heart-wrenching and exciting. Being surrounded by thousands of people who want to tell each other that they are loved creates an intensely euphoric, ‘love-conquers-all’ feeling that is totally organic and human,
Experiencing the sacrifice that these sailors and their loved ones make has resonated with me continuously since the event and has led up to today, the celebration of all that is American. Today we collectively pull together to ask ourselves ‘What makes it all worth it?’.
I vote because of people like these sailors and their families that remind me about how these personal sacrifices build upon each other to provide our nation the potential and momentum to be whatever we wish it to be. So today please remember what you stand for and what you’re willing to sacrifice for it.