When my son was 3 years old, he informed his nursery school teacher he had seen the United States of America on TV. It was January 1993, and the day before we had watched President Bill Clinton's inauguration on TV, standing for the pledge to the flag and singing along to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
In June 2007, my son graduated from high school and announced he wanted to take a trip with no parental supervision. Washington, D.C., was the destination.
My son, a third-generation American, and his friend, a recent immigrant, boarded the Greyhound at midnight and headed off toward the sunrise, arriving in New York City just in time to see the Statue of Liberty by the dawn's early light.
Several hours later they were in our nation's capital, scaling up to their third-tier bunks in a youth hostel. They visited the Supreme Court, the Vietnam War Memorial, Ford's Theater and many things in between as they walked from one end of town to the other.
The following fall, my son left for college. He immediately declared political science his major. By January he had secured a summer internship in a local congressman's Washington office.
Since your average college kid's wardrobe would not cut the mustard in a congressional office, in March we went out to purchase a sport coat and some dress pants. It was the day after Eliot Spitzer's resignation. It gave me pause for thought. Even the salesman reminded my son not to be tempted by the vices of Washington, D.C.
At end of May, our own "Mr. Smith" went to Washington with the same bright eyes and great expectations as Jimmy Stewart in the classic movie.
We met my son in August at the Cannon Building office of his congressman. From there he took us on a tour of the Capitol building. We saw the old Senate Chamber where Daniel Webster spoke and the hall of statues, two remarkable men or women from each state. There my son demonstrated how, if you whisper in one particular place, you can be heard through the floor all the way across the room in another place.
We also saw the rotunda where Rosa Parks and President Ronald Reagan lay in state, as well as so many others who worked to make our country great. I thought my buttons would bust with pride. How did he learn so much?
To exit the building, he took us down the stairs that the newly elected president walks to the inauguration ceremony, out into the sun onto the porch that he had seen on TV as a 3-year-old.
My son is back at college now, where as a member of his chosen political party's student organization, he worked at the campus activity fair to register 70 freshmen to vote.
He is coming home in November to vote in his first ever presidential election. He used an absentee ballot to cast the first vote of his life in the Super Tuesday primary of last February, but he says for the presidential election, "There's no way I'm going to miss pulling that lever."
Never ones to allow our children to miss classes, my husband and I agreed that this was an occasion worthy of skipping school.
My wish for America is that every 18-year-old in these United States will be as excited about voting as my son is, and make whatever extra effort is necessary to get to the polls on Nov. 4. May we all do whatever it takes so we don't miss "pulling that lever."