I love this country of ours. When I travel through it, I find myself loving it more.
I love our flag. When I see those 13 stripes, I think one of them is for my home state and I think that’s special.
This week, we have a day set aside to honor our flag. June 14 is Flag Day. It is also the birthday of the U.S. Army. As the son of a decorated Army veteran, I’m proud of that, too.
At the same time, I get a little frustrated at the lack of honor we show our flag or our nation.
If some terrorist thug in an enemy nation decides to burn our flag on their public square, we get all upset about it.
But go to a public sporting event where the flag is flown and the National Anthem is played and nobody seems to care if half the crowd is drunk and doesn’t give a moment’s notice to the emblem of our country.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the Nazis were taking over parts of Europe, young men from big cities, little towns and hills and hollers of the mountains lined up to go and fight for America.
We still have young men and women who love this country enough to fight for it. We are more than 10 years into a war and I’ve seen way too many young folks come home in a box or without the limbs they had when they marched off to battle.
As of March, there are 5.8 million people registered to vote in Georgia. The 2010 census showed that there are about 7.5 million people who are older than age 18 living in our state.
That means there are 1.7 million who haven’t bothered to register. If unregistered voters were a city, it would be larger than the cities of Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Savannah, Athens, Sandy Springs, Macon, Roswell, Albany and Johns Creek combined.
Then I have to wonder if I really want those people going to the polls if they really don’t care.
We get excited about a 50 percent turnout of those who are registered. If you ran a company and half of your employees didn’t show up, you might not be in business for long.
When I was a kid, we watched the 6 o’clock news. I could point out the governor of our state and the mayor of our capital city. I knew my congressman and my state legislators.
It’s sad to say that more people under age 35 in Georgia could identify the latest “American Idol” and not the governor of this state. When your source of news is watching “The Daily Show,” you might not be able to distinguish fact from parody.
Then, I think about that flag. It waves over the land of the free and that includes the freedom to completely disconnect from the electoral process that has been fought for by the brave.
Sometimes I look at crowds of people at a ballgame, concert or other gathering and think that half of them don’t vote and don’t care.
This is dedicated to the other half.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.