Not the Most Important Election of My Lifetime

johnson1

 

I voted today. Checked all the boxes. Signed the outside of the secret ballot. Put a 4th of July stamp on it with fireworks exploding and drove it over to the Post Office and even went inside to mail it, just to be sure that there was no voter fraud taking place. I want my vote to count.

I hope you vote, too.

Everyone keeps saying this is the most important election of our lives. I’ve said it myself. But in reality, at least for me, this is probably not the most important election of my life. The most important election of my life took place in 1963 when Lyndon B. Johnson was elected. Johnson promised voters he would not be sending any “American boys” to wage war on behalf of South Vietnam.

“We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” —President Lyndon Johnson in a speech at Akron University on October 21, 1964, two weeks before the presidential election.

Johnson won by a landslide.

Two years later, shortly before Christmas Day of 1965, my father shipped out to Vietnam.

“We do this [escalating U.S. military involvement in Vietnam] in order to slow down aggression. We do this to increase the confidence of the brave people of South Vietnam who have bravely born this brutal battle for so many years with so many casualties. And we do this to convince the leaders of North Vietnam—and all who seek to share their conquest—of a simple fact: We will not be defeated. We will not grow tired. We will not withdraw either openly or under the cloak of a meaningless agreement.”—President Lyndon Johnson, speaking to the nation on April 7, 1965 explaining his decision to send U.S. combat troops to Vietnam.

So, yes, it does matter a great deal who we put into office because that person controls our futures the way Lyndon B. Johnson controlled mine.

I still have the letter of sympathy he wrote in the wake of my father’s death.

I have little to no regard for that letter. I know Johnson signed thousands of such letters.

I don’t want a president who pays lip service to our nation’s military and Gold Star families like mine.

But I sure to heck don’t want a president who doesn’t have the decency to do even that much – a man who, instead, denigrates the sacrifices that our military families make each and every day.

Gold Star families.

POW families.

Purple Heart recipients.

He’s managed to demean them all.

That’s not the only reason I voted for Hillary Clinton, but if it were, it is reason enough for me.

I pray she has wisdom enough to refrain from sending American men and women to fight wars that should never be waged and, yet, enough wisdom to not forsake the suffering of this world.

Being Commander-in-Chief is not a job I envy any man.

Or woman.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of BURDY (MU Press).

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

7 Comments

AFRoger

about 12 months ago

Things so often turn out differently from what we had planned or envisioned. Would be interesting to know the lives of the four soldiers in the photo, especially the soldier (First Lieutenant??) receiving the decoration from President Johnson. All elections are important, and no matter how things turn out in this one, they will be different from what we all plan. The important thing is for the constancy of our citizenship and the exercise of our freedom and responsibility (informing ourselves, holding ourselves and leaders accountable) on a daily basis. We all have important jobs to do. Peace be upon you.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 12 months ago

Thanks, Roger, Yes, peace be upon us all. And I wonder what those soldiers were thinking in that moment. Were they honored? I think of the Tet Offensive, the lives lost, the dreams and hopes spilled blood. I think of Syrians And those in Mosul And I remember standing on the edge of that manioc field overlooking the Ia Drang and hearing the sobs of my sister Cammie as she cried out: Why? Why? Grieving for the father she knows only through the memories of others.

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AFRoger

about 12 months ago

And more than wishes of peace... I'm serving as interim pastor of my home congregation right now until the next pastor comes aboard in late November. this year, I knew we needed more, far more, than just some token nod to thank veterans on the Sunday closest to 11/11. So we are. I've called it "Citizenship Sunday", and we will engage in repentance and renewal. We will re-orient ourselves with words from our nation's founding documents. We will confess our failings and seek God's guidance in living up to what we say on paper. We will also re-orient ourselves to our Christian calling to be peacemakers and to love our neighbors as ourselves and pray for our enemies. We will recognize, honor, and pray for veterans. We will also do something I've never seen before. We will "Commission The Citizens" to be faithful in prayer, to work for peace and justice in all things, and to make the best informed decisions that we are able to. Never in my lifetime have I thought we needed this more.

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Rose blackwell

about 12 months ago

Good to hear from you Karin ! I voted today ! ;)

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 12 months ago

Yay! Rose!! Isn't it wonderful that we have the right to vote? I appreciate all those who went before and earned us that right, fought that we might have that right. I'll be back on FB after the election. I miss everyone but it is much healthier for me.

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Nancy Simpson-Brice

about 12 months ago

Thanks, Karin, for your observations. It's always disappointing when elected officials cannot live up to their promises. But often these people are not in control of much at all. Whether it be foreign governments, terrorist groups, or even an unresponsive Congress, rarely is a President of the United States able to have everything as s/he envisioned. The best we can do is look for a person with an intelligent mind, an ability to think of all facets of a problem, an ability to empathize, and do good for the most citizens possible. Not someone who seeks revenge at every turn, who denigrates half the population of the world, who speaks with hatred about immigrant groups and religious groups. I lived during the Vietnam Era. I'm so, so sorry you lost your father, Karin. To me, that makes your post all the more powerful and meaningful. Please, U.S. citizens, think! Then vote. I did today.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 12 months ago

Thank you, Nancy, for adding your voice and wisdom. I appreciate your kind words. I am praying wisdom prevails.

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