Voting is another way to serve

CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- As military men and women, we have a deep commitment to the service of our nation. We've all taken oaths to "... support and defend the constitution of the United States ..." In our Airmen's Creed, we each take our commitment even farther by vowing to "defend my country with my life."

It's this type of dedication to country that not only makes our nation great, but makes us the most powerful military in the world. Yet how many of us are registered to vote in the upcoming presidential election?

So you say your one vote won't count? I beg to differ. By not voting, you're basically saying everyone else's opinion is more important than yours. Each of us can have a say in who will become our next commander in chief. Regardless of your political affiliation, as a U.S. military member you have a vested interest to let your voice be heard on issues affecting all of us. You don't have to be a political junkie like me, watching all the Sunday morning news shows and talking to the screen as if each candidate can hear me, but you should become familiar with the issues so you can cast an informed vote.

Let's face it, we may never get a personal invite to the oval office to engage the president on the economy, global warming or the two wars we are currently fighting, but we can speak to the political process which will elect the next person responsible for addressing these issues. When I vote, I'm basically having a dialog with our government. My vote, plus your vote, make up a body of citizens entitled to elect a representative that neither political party can afford to ignore if they hope to be successful. The "U.S." on your uniform says you represent America which means your vote does count!

Let's not forget that you and I are not the only Americans willing to fight for the freedoms we now enjoy. Women Suffragist of 1920 rallied and fought to give women the right to vote. In 1965 Civil Rights leaders marched, boycotted, and even died to give African Americans and other minorities the right to vote. To date, more than 4,124 U.S. service members have given the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect our American freedoms. Throughout our nation's history, these brave individuals gave their all to ensure each one of us has the opportunity to enjoy the democracy we live in. I, for one, refuse to allow their sacrifices to go in vain.

If you're not registered, there is still time! Not a resident of this state? Contact your unit's voting representative to request an absentee ballot. Registering in your home state is simple, but there may be deadlines so don't delay.

This November, it will be my highest honor to participate in a process upon which our country was founded: the right to govern ourselves. Don't miss the chance to be a part of something you've already sworn to support and defend. Voting is just another way to serve.