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Joseph Dill

“Does anybody really know what time it is?

Does anybody really care?”

— Chicago



Yogi Berra, the legendary Yankees catcher and manager, once was asked, “What time is it, Yogi?” His response was, “You mean right now?”

Old Yogi was credited with many famous malapropisms, many of which he denies ever saying. He admits this one, although he quickly points out that he and his teammates were on a cross-country flight from New York to Los Angeles at the time. So, he really meant, “Do you mean in New York or Los Angeles or wherever we might be right now, 30,000 feet in the air somewhere near Des Moines?”

In other words, that question can have different meanings, and several correct answers, depending on the context.

For example: “What time do we have to be there?” can be answered several ways, depending on whose perspective is considered.

“Your mother wants us there at 5:30.”

“The priest said the rehearsal starts at 7.”

“My brother, Tommy, is always a half-hour late, anyway.”

“I’m just an usher, so I really don’t have to be there until the end.”

“What day is this?” has a similar, nebulous existence, depending on context.

One might answer “Monday,” and be correct.

A different person might say “Nov. 3” and not be wrong.

Other people might say “It’s my anniversary,” or “It’s my brother’s birthday.” Still others might link the date to some event — happy or tragic — in their lives.

Spread throughout the year, there are dates marked on the calendar that make them special. There are obvious ones, like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween. There are less obvious ones, like Canadian Flag Day, Yom Kippur or Colombian Independence Day, which are celebrated by subsets of our culture.

Added to all of these are the “greeting card” holidays — bosses day, grandparents day, sweetest day, etc. And don’t even get me started on the recognition days, weeks or months — like “World Kumquat Week,” “Three-legged Dog Awareness Month” or “This Poor Day Wasn’t Being Celebrated for Anything Else So We Decided to Celebrate it for That Day.” There is a book as thick as the New York City phone book that you can buy to keep track of those.

This subjective perspective on dates can get comical. I actually have heard the following questions asked seriously — and, when the context is considered, not incorrectly:

“When is the Fourth of July this year?”

“What day is the Fourth of July this year?”

Some people’s patriotism makes them think Memorial Day is the most important day of the year. Others live for, prepare for and then reminisce about Christmas all year long. Jokesters might circle April Fool’s Day. Those opinions are all valid, for those people.

But this column is about one day that trumps all the rest — at least right now.

It is tomorrow.

Tuesday.

Nov. 4, 2008.

Election Day.

After enduring the political ads, non-stop campaign coverage and arguments over the cost of wardrobes or off-the-cuff remarks for the past — well, it seems like forever — many Americans may simply be looking forward to tomorrow because it will mark the end of it all. It will be safe to turn on a Seinfeld rerun without being subjected to claims and counter-claims, politicians being chased through the woods by hound dogs and somber, funeral durge-themed commercials about somebody’s humble background and self-made rise to success.

Again, that viewpoint is valid. But Tuesday is important for much deeper reasons than that. It is our chance to exercise a right crafted for us 220-odd years ago by some of the smartest men ever gathered and, yes, one protected for us by the courage and blood of men and women on hundreds of battlefields around the world since then.

Voting is not just ONE of our civic duties — it is THE civic duty upon which everything else about this country rests.

In these times of financial crisis, partisan politics and big-money government lobbying, it would be easy to shrug and abdicate this duty with a simple, “What difference does one vote make, anyway.”

It makes all the difference. Because it is that act of voting, not the result, that makes this country, well, America. It is our opportunity to be heard, to have our say. After months of being inundated with the opinions, stump speeches and endless “ideals” of these politicians, don’t you want to make them listen to you — if even for just one millisecond?

Tuesday is a special day. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Get up, get out and get to the polls.

The country you save may be your own.

Contact Joseph Dill at jdill@sentinel-echo.com

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