Forty-four years ago, in 1968, I had just turned 18 years old, graduated high school, gone through US Marine boot camp. I had arrived in Vietnam a week or two earlier. I had enlisted in the Marine Corps knowing that I would be going there.

Back home, 1968 was a turbulent time. Demonstrations were everywhere. It was an election year. Lyndon Johnson had decided not to seek re-election, so the race for President was between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey, with the election day being 5 November, just a few weeks ahead. The outcome of this election could be rather important to me, here in a combat zone.

There was only one problem. At 18, I was old enough to fight for my country, but not old enough to vote. It seemed a little odd to me, but that was the way it was. Three years later, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. I felt cheated, as the next election, in 1972, I would have been old enough to vote anyway.

I exercised my right to vote in the Presidential election of 1972. Since then, I have not missed an opportuntiy to vote my opinion, or displeasure. I have taken seriously this great honor of determining the best person for each office and casting a vote for that person.

There has rarely been a more critical time to exercise the right to vote. In a time when our elected officials completely disregard the wishes of the majority of its constituents, virtually thumbing their noses at the people, every vote counts. Did you want the government to control 1/6 of our economy, mandating how and where you spend your money. Do you want to add a 20-25% Value-added Tax to everything you purchase, on top of the existing income tax system? Do you want Cap and Trade to further cripple small business and the economy? These are all important questions facing The United States of America today. Our future depends on the answer. Are we destined to be just another member of the European Union, separated by the Atlantic Ocean? Do we want to surrender our rights to the United Nations?

Thomas Jefferson said,” To preserve our independence… we must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude.” This statement is just as true today as when he said it in 1816.  Here in North Carolina, early voting begins this Thursday, 18 October.  Exercise your right as a citizen to vote. The destiny of the United States of America relies upon it! This country can’t stand another four years like the last four!