I come from a long line of soldiers on both sides of my family. In fact, both my maternal and paternal forebears fought in the American Revolution. One even mustered at Lexington on April 19, 1775. My grandfathers fought in WWII, and my father, a professional soldier like his father and a graduate of West Point, was killed in Vietnam in 1968.
I come from a long line of soldiers, and it is soldiers I think of today, Election Day. I think of soldiers every single time I vote because it is by their blood that I and every American have this privilege. Mostly, I imagine the young men and boys who wrested this country from the tyranny of monarchy and the absurdity of inherited titles in a contest whose outcome was by no means certain. They, whose names are mostly lost to all but a handful of faithful descendants, are among mankind's few who truly risked their lives for a cause they knew to be righteous. And in doing so, they created for their children the country we enjoy today -- a country where, above all else, the transfer of power, even when it is contested, is peaceful.
In the coming days and weeks, vote tallies will be challenged, recounts will be demanded, nameplates on office doors in the Capitol will be changed, and all of this will transpire without violence or chaos. We need politicians for the administration of this country, but it is not the politician who provides the peace. It is the soldier, who, over two hundred years ago, bought it for us at a price unimaginable to most of us, and it is the soldier today who maintains it for us at the very same cost.
I come from a long line of soldiers, and it is soldiers I think of, with tears of gratitude, every single time I vote.