Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November to Remember: Citizenship Acts

Over large cups of hot chocolate stacked with whipped cream, I sat huddled (only because it's 10 degrees outside) with my American Legion Auxiliary members for our monthly meeting.

We reviewed the past months' activities. Recently we had decorated and attended the Legion Veteran's Day dinner, helped raise money for the community building, and gave donations to state organizations to help veterans in rural and urban areas. We maintained and checked out hospital equipment to those recovering from surgeries,and planned Christmas gifts to veteran's widows whom are shut in this winter. As we look to the future, we will award a high school scholarship for Outstanding Senior Girl and plan to send several young women to the Montana Girls State program in Helena, our state capitol, this next summer. We're most excited about connecting with Girls State alumni in the new year.

Today I am thankful that there are women (and men in the American Legion) who recognize the importance of being an active citizen in a democracy. I am thankful that they give up their lunch hours, 4th of July BBQs and warm living rooms to meet, raise money for community and youth events, and serve veterans and their families. They put out and pick up grave markers, sell poppies, and replace flags; send sympathy and get well cards and encourage people to participate in elections.

My grandfather served in the Pacific in WWII and our family has always emphasized public participation. Democracy in practice is far from perfect,in fact it's down right messy most days.It's the ONLY form of government, however, that gives its citizens the most OPPORTUNITY to participate.

Our service, should we choose to engage, doesn't often cost us our lives or limbs, state of mind or marriages. It MAY cost us some time, a few headaches, a few dollars, some consideration, or even a gesture of shaking some one's hand. These large and small acts of gratitude, our service and actions, honor all the blood that was shed in hopes of a better future for every generation.

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