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Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2004 - 5:29 p.m.

I am a patriot

It's not the actual date, but I began this journal four years ago "today," Election Day. Four years: It's like finishing college. Things change, you change, relationships change. You move a couple of times in between. But in these four years, I didn't move back to my parents' for three months every summer.

So in honor of this pseudo anniversary -- and for this, my 1000th entry -- I have reverted to my original, standard-issue Diaryland template. It'll be a six-day homage, up to the actual four-year anniversary date, November 7. Then I'll slap the old one back up, unless I find myself inspired to create something fresh and new. We'll see.

Having to work today, but also knowing I wouldn't have to show up at the office until noon, I drove down to my hometown to vote this morning. After this election, I'll look into registering up where I live, but I wanted to be sure things went smoothly for me with this one. It's amazing what Florida 2000 did to everyone. I think I read somewhere that Monmouth County is the only one in New Jersey still using the old voting machines with the little tab/lever type things you turn next to your candidate. After you've done that for all your choices, you then flip the red lever in the upper left to record your vote and open the curtain behind you. It's been that way since I can remember, and that goes back to when I was maybe 8 or 10 and would go with one parent or the other while they voted. Which is nice. As I walked into the voting venue this morning, a woman came out carrying one child and leading her son by the hand back to the car. "Well, now we've done our civic duty for the day," she said as we passed, and then, I imagine, she went on to explain more about the rights, duties and privileges we have on this day.

My small hometown has maybe 6,000 residents and at least four districts. Only two of the districts vote at the place I went to today, so there were no lines. I walked in, stepped right up to the table to sign my name in the book, got my form to hand to the nice old lady manning one of the two booths, and stood there for another moment until someone emerged from one. I stepped in, closed the curtain, ran my finger down the column I had looked at moments before -- this polling place is literally across the street from my parents' house -- and click-click-click-click-click-clicked my choices. There were no public questions that needed to be answered, so I triple-checked my choices to make sure everything was in order. Then I flipped the red lever back, watched the Xs disappear, hoped that the clicking inside the machine meant that there was a secure record of the selections made, and turned around moments later after the curtain opened.

The sun shone today, unlike four years ago, warming the car as I drove to work. The changing trees, orange and golden, prettied up each street as I drove into Red Bank to pick up a sandwich for lunch and I listened to a CD of presidential and election-themed songs (and a few protest tunes) I burned last week. As I made my way to the deli, Little Steven's 20-year-old "I Am A Patroit" came on:

I was walking with my brother
And he wondered what was on my mind
I said what I believe in my soul
It ain't what I see with my eyes
And we can't turn our backs this time

I am a patriot and I love my country
Because my country is all I know
I want to be with my family
With people who understand me
I got nowhere else to go
I am a patriot

And the river opens for the righteous, someday

I was talking with my sister
She looked so fine
I said baby what's on your mind
She said I want to run like the lion
Released from the cages
Released from the rages
Burning in my heart tonight

I am a patriot and I love my country
Because my country is all I know

And I ain't no communist, and I ain't no capitalist
And I ain't no socialist
and I sure ain't no imperialist
And I ain't no democrat
And I ain't no republican either
And I only know one party
and its name is freedom
I am a patriot

And the river opens for the righteous, someday

Previous page: Why I'm voting for John Kerry
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