For love of country

Published 9:33 am Wednesday, November 5, 2014

When Mike and I are traveling we always try to find a hotel with a good continental breakfast. Our reasoning to try to save a little cash by not purchasing breakfast is reason enough, but over time the unexpected opportunities to meet interesting people from different places has become a delightful addition to each trip.

Monday morning in Birmingham, Ala., exceeded my expectations. Coffee called me early, and Mike and I followed our noses to find the night manager and breakfast waiting. My sister, Dianne, was sleeping soundly as were most of the other guests, leaving the lobby almost deserted. The night manager’s quiet evening left him open for conversation, and we shared pleasantries.

The manager and I soon began to talk politics since CNN was giving us plenty to talk about. Mike quietly ate his breakfast as my newfound friend and I attempted to solve the world’s problems over coffee. He had spent 20 years of his career working for the first black mayor of Birmingham and was as opinionated as I. A lively debate followed.

We spoke about the upcoming election, political parties, travel to exotic places, and religion before it was all said and done. He was of a different race, sex (of course) and political persuasion, and soon it was apparent that our views on most things were decidedly different. But as we shared our thoughts something interesting happened; our similarities began to emerge. We were close to the same age; we had many of the same moral values; we both loved our country; and we agreed to respectfully disagree.

My new friend shared the overwhelming feeling he had experienced when visiting Africa for the first time. We agreed that our nation has been blessed with freedom and wealth so abundant that many people around the world only dream of experiencing such riches.

As Americans living a wealthy lifestyle compared to most other people how fortunate we are! My father, now deceased, was an old marine, a leatherneck. He fought valiantly for our country in WWII and was tough as nails. My dad loved poetry and sang every day of his life since he was blessed with a gorgeous voice. From him, I.W. Ball Jr., and the life he quietly lived, I learned national pride and a love of country.

When my 18th birthday rolled around and I became old enough to vote, it just happened to fall on a presidential election year. Casting my ballot for the leader of the free world caused my chest to fill with pride. What an honor it was to vote!

As an American and as a woman, I go to the polls each election day not with a sense of frustration, but with the same feeling of awe I experienced many years ago. I am an American. First and foremost, more than my political persuasion, my love of country urges me to cast my ballot. For all the brave men and women that fought for my right to be a part of our political process, I thank you. I thank you every time I vote.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at