Monday, October 20, 2008


This is a view of the USS New Hampshire nuclear submarine moving up the Piscataqua River to the site where it will be officially commissioned into the US Navy later this week. It carries more than 100 sailors committed to serving and protecting our country. Many are in their late teens and early 20s.

As I watched the sub make its way to the nation’s oldest shipyard, guided by tugboats and accompanied by a welcoming flotilla of local watercraft, I was reminded once again that there are young people still willing to risk everything for the greater good.

It gives me such hope for America.

I am now of a generation that often shakes its head over “young people today” and worries they lack direction and a willingness to commit to something bigger than themselves. There are days when I fear our nation has become so cynical that we have given up; that we are paralyzed by disillusion.

These sailors are proof that I am wrong.

So, too, are the young people who tiptoed through our house at 6 a.m. yesterday. For the past week, Annie from Wisconsin and Tommy from Maryland have been sleeping here for a few hours each night, departing early in the morning and often returning around 1 a.m.

They arrived at our door with their own towels, bedding and sturdy shoes, prepared to sleep on a stranger’s floor, if necessary, so they could pound the pavement in support of their beliefs. In their mid-20s, they’ve taken leaves of absence to work for the grassroots group “Progressive Future,” which is trying to get out the vote for candidates who support health care, education and the environment.

They came to New Hampshire because it was considered a “swing state” with four precious electoral college votes. When I asked if they might be able to cut back a little on their insane schedule, they told me there was too much at stake on Nov. 4.

Yesterday they were up early because Tommy was being shipped out to Denver. “Gotta go where the fight is,” he said in the thank you note he left behind. I suspect that somewhere else in this country, young people with opposite beliefs also were preparing to leave for Colorado. It's become a key battleground state for nine electoral votes while NH appears to be leaning toward Obama.

As the election gets closer, more Tommys and Annies will be pouring into states that could ultimately decide the next administration of our country. They will be from all walks of life and support candidates across the political spectrum – Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc. And most of these campaign workers will be young.

Commitment. Standing up for what you believe in. Supporting a cause. Yes, young people still do that – in service to their country, in election campaigns and in a thousand other ways.

Whatever your political beliefs, doesn’t it make you proud to be an American?

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