Teaching my daughters the importance of voting


By Stephen H. Padre

In February 1991, I was a senior in high school and had just turned 18. A few weeks earlier, on Jan. 17, then-President George H.W. Bush had started the war to force Iraq out of Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded several months earlier. As required by law, I registered for the draft. It really hit me on my birthday that year – as a war was actually being waged, I was becoming officially eligible to fight in a war. I realized that, if the war had dragged on, there was a real possibility that I could be recruited to go fight.

I had to wait 21 months before I had an opportunity to vote for president. In other words, when my country said I was officially of age, I was eligible to be sent off to war but not yet able to cast a vote for the person who would have sent me to war.

So I was eager to vote for the first time in a national election in November 1992. The year before, I had moved across the country to start college. With all of these new experiences and responsibilities, I felt like such an adult.

In this election, my wife and I will take our two girls, ages 5 and 9, with us when we vote on Nov. 8. This is so they can not only see that someone of their gender is able to make a run for the highest office in the land, but also so they see that it’s important to take part in choosing our leaders.

I want them to understand that we have a say in who our leaders are – the ones who can start wars and send Americans to deadly situations, the ones who inspire us and lead us through difficult times, the ones who formulate our policies that can touch the lives of so many people around the world.

Choosing our leaders – voting – is an adult thing, an important responsibility because of what our leaders have the power and ability to do.

Learn more about Bread’s I Vote to End Hunger campaign and then get involved to ensure that our next president and Congress make ending hunger a priority.

Stephen H. Padre is Bread’s managing editor.

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