Friday, November 13, 2009

Proud owner of a lawn sign

I want to gag on half this column, but there are a few parts I still like.

Published Oct. 29, 2004, in the Keizertimes

Next month, I will have been a father and a homeowner for exactly a year.

As they ask in the musical "Rent," "How do you measure a year in the life?"

Of the two, being a father, has by far been the most rewarding. I am in the process of labeling all the photos from the past year and finding I had already forgotten some of the things I swore I would remember for years to come.

I'm still figuring out what it means to be a father, and I hope I never stop learning, but the meaning of homeownership came into sharper focus just recently.

I never thought I would be one of those homeowners who put political signs in their yard. The Oregon State Fair changed my mind.

I became possessed with the drive to have a sign of my own after my wife and I spotted an overwhelming number of signs supporting the opposition.

After tracking down the booth where the signs were being sold I happily forked over the $5 and brought it home.

I was more than a week before I actually got up the nerve to put it in my yard.

During the next few weeks I grew more proud of having that sign. As I drove up to my house after a long day it brought a smile to my face to have a space that was mine to express my views.

Then, two weeks ago, it mysteriously disappeared from our yard.

Now, I'll never know if it was a politically motivated gesture and, mostly, I don't care. Whatever the intended effect, it simply added to my resolve. The day after we noticed it was missing I found a place in Salem to obtain replacements - that's plural.

I put out a new sign in our yard the minute I returned home from work, another in a window and then remembered something a teacher once wrote on one of my high school papers.

In 1992, I was 16 years old and taking Mr. Goode's course on government at Parkway North High School in St. Louis. It was a fantastic time to be taking a course with the election in full swing.

That semester I wrote an overly-dramatic, underly-supported position paper bearing witness to the qualifications of a certain third-party candidate. Near the end I lamented the fact I would not be able to vote and how this had turned me off the entire process, but Mr. Goode saw it differently.

"If you're this passionate right now," he wrote, "you'll have no problem voting in four years."

To this day I remain passionate about voting. I know that part of it can be attributed to Mr. Goode, but my father also led by example during that election volunteering for Ross Perot.

When I went to buy replacement signs, one of the volunteers asked me to carry in a couple of boxes in exchange for the signs. I gladly carried the boxes and paid for the signs anyway.

If you've already voted, thank you. If you have a ballot sitting in your home fill it out and return it. If you don't feel like you have enough information, pull out the Oregon Voters' Pamphlet to find out what you need to know.

Both major parties have recently questioned what it means to be a patriot in America. For me, it means having a yard in Keizer to put up a sign.

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