I was thirteen years old and at sleep-away camp for the summer when President Nixon announced his resignation from the Presidency on national television.
All of us were hustled from our bunkhouses to the main dining hall to watch this moment in history on the small television set they set up in front of the hall. There were over a hundred of us girls, all ages, and about thirty staff members. I was sitting cross legged on one of the dining tables with a bunch of my friends in the back and everyone was very quiet as President Nixon spoke.
This is what I saw on television that night, from a girl’s sleep-away camp, far away from civilization and from home.
There was something about the sound of his voice and knowing what he was talking about that moved me to tears. I remember the tears rolling down my cheeks as he spoke and one of my friends put her arm around my shoulders. She leaned in and whispered, “Did you know him?” and I shook my head no, that I did not know him.
My emotional reaction wasn’t about President Nixon, or even about the fact that he was impeached, or had lied to all of us and betrayed the trust of a nation. No, my tears were for something much bigger than that.
My tears were from the realization that even the leaders of our country were not above reproach and that no place would ever be truly safe again. The country that I called home was under scrutiny and this could mean anyone that hated us could storm in and try to hurt us. I grew up believing that where I lived was the safest place on Earth and that day proved that my belief was incorrect. We were not safe. We weren’t even safe from our own President.
Then on September 11, 2001, the thing I feared most, happened.
I am not a political activist and refrain from becoming embattled with folks online about politics. But I do have strong convictions and political beliefs and that is the platform I vote from. Growing up, politics were not discussed at home, but as I grew older I realized the importance of knowing what my own rights as a citizen of this country were, and what they meant. All any of us can do is to educate ourselves and vote people into office that we believe will make those good changes that we all dream can happen.
No matter where you live, know your government.