UNITY: Rights and Responsibilities

Election Day, it’s finally here. This year, I am off. The schools in my school district are closed, but not all school districts are closed for election day, it depends on the school district. It’s a local issue.

My students wrapped up their study of the U.S. Constitution last Friday. They believe the Constitution is behind them, but they are in for a surprise – knowing and applying the Constitution never goes away.

I was awakened this morning before my alarm sounded and I got up, I should have stayed in bed, but didn’t. I am not sure what woke me in the first place, but what kept me up was a thought I couldn’t keep out of my mind. Last week, as I was discussing the Constitution with my students, I needed to cover their rights, duties, and responsibilities as citizens of the United States of America.

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The duties mentioned in our textbook are:

  • Obey the law
  • Pay taxes
  • Defend the nation
  • Serve in court
  • Attend school

I went further to remind my students that though attending school was a duty, being in school and being more than ‘present’ was their responsibility, not only to themselves, but to our country. It meant being engaged in their learning.

We further discussed that the Constitution guaranteed their right to vote (when they reached the voting age), but it was their responsibility to stay informed and take part in the democratic process. I searched high and low and came across the list of rights and responsibilities of citizens on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

Rights

  • Freedom to express yourself.
  • Freedom to worship as you wish.
  • Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.
  • Right to vote in elections for public officials.
  • Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
  • Right to run for elected office.
  • Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Responsibilities

  • Support and defend the Constitution.
  • Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
  • Participate in the democratic process.
  • Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
  • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
  • Participate in your local community.
  • Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
  • Serve on a jury when called upon.
  • Defend the country if the need should arise.

SOURCE: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services – Department of Homeland Security

I found a treasure trove of information. I found a booklet, in digital form, which is likely given to new citizens after their ceremony. Inside the 112 page booklet I found a wealth of information including the quote below.

“I received a letter just before I left office from a man. I don’t know why he chose to write it, but I’m glad he did. He wrote that you can go to live in France, but you can’t become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Italy, but you can’t become a German, an Italian. He went through Turkey, Greece, Japan and other countries. But he said anyone, from any corner of the world, can come to live in the United States and become an American.” Excerpt from a letter to President Ronald Reagan (1990)

This morning, I woke O and took her with me to vote. We saw W, who was working the election for the county. O stood by my side, as I marked my ballot and witnessed as I slid the ballot into the voting machine. I was #145 in the precinct. We both got “I Voted Today” stickers when we left. Afterwards, we went to Starbucks, had breakfast, and I helped her with her algebra homework and then I dropped her off at school.

And that sums it up for this post. I am an American. Several generations ago, my ancestors came here from Europe to make a new home and became Americans. They risked it all. It is easy to forget what they sacrificed to come here and what they left behind.

Today is gonna be a great day. In many ways, it already is. I’ve done my part; I can only hope and pray that the results of this election are a step forward and that we all can come together and be a UNITED States of America, again. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one person, one vote, united in a common purpose.

And if you have time, about 12 minutes and 6 seconds, please take time to watch the video below. Peace.

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2 thoughts on “UNITY: Rights and Responsibilities

    1. School is closed. It burns my butt, too. Several elections ago the PTA lobbied to close the schools because many of the schools are polling places and there was no way, at least no cheap way, to keep pedophiles from wandering around the school so the decision was to close the schools on election days in our school district. I argued that it sent the message that voting would go the way of MLK Day (a good day for shopping and a sale) and all the other days which have become long weekends. My students had four days off – Sat,Sun, Mon for parent conferences, and Tues. A few even took off the Thursday and Friday before. The week is already off to wonderful start. Off to clean gutters and rake a few bags of leaves. Peace.

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