At my polling place in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, this morning, the line stretched long out the door of Wilderness Elementary School, wrapping along the edge of the traffic circle. At 6:45 a.m., the temperature was just rising past thirty degrees. People waited for 35 minutes to cast their ballots.
At the end of the school’s driveway, three roadside wayside signs overlooked a frost-covered field. One sign recounted the story of “The Wilderness and the Overland Campaign.” Another recounted the story of the United States Colored Troops during the Overland Campaign—particularly fitting since the signs overlooked the ground where the 23rd U.S.C.T. engaged Thomas Rosser’s Confederate cavalry on May 15, 1864. The third sign recounted the story of Sgt. Benjamin Brown, Spotsylvania County’s only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. Brown, a Buffalo Soldier, received the award after a gunfight with bandits in 1889 while on service in Arizona.
Each sign offered an important reminder of why we vote and why we’re able to vote in the first place. Each also served as a reminder of the sacrifices so many people made in order to preserve that right. Blood was shed on the ground where I voted.
After voting, I had to drive to western New York. Soon after arriving, I heard stories of people gathering at the grave of Susan B. Anthony in Rochester. People lined up to get into the cemetery, where people were leaving flowers and “I voted” stickers.
I’m sure others today had similar brushes with history as they went to the polls. I know many people who expressed a lot of concerns about this particular presidential election—but then again, democracy is not such a cakewalk after all.
As the results come in—regardless of who wins—please take the opportunity to remember those who made it possible for us to go to the polls in the first place.
(My thanks to my wife, Jennifer, for grabbing these pictures for me today.)