President’s Corner: Celebrating Election Day
Dear Salve Regina:
It’s hard to believe that this day is finally here, following months of anxiety with COVID-19 still with us and our nation in turmoil over racial injustice. Many of us are feeling exhausted and isolated in these troubled times. There is something about Election Day, though, that brings hope and reminds us of our connections to one another — particularly on a local level.
Though I voted by mail this year, in the past I frequently took time off for elections, especially when my sons were younger. I raised my boys in the same town where I grew up, and the local polling station was at the middle school. On Election Day, I would pack David and Jake into their car seats and drive to the middle school parking lot, waving to neighbors holding signs for candidates (some that I didn’t vote for, but I still liked the neighbors).
We’d march past our local police officer (who took my sister to the prom) into the gym, now a re-fashioned site organized by voting precincts. The same elderly women staffed Precinct 3 every year, and we would catch up on family news as I picked up my ballot and held my sons’ hands, heading into the booth.
The pens for voting always had plastic spoons taped to them so that we wouldn’t accidentally put them in our pockets. I remember balancing Jake on my hip as I tried to fill out the ballot, and I could hear other voters chuckle as he would loudly ask if he could “color in the dots,” too.
I fed my completed ballot into the machine at the end of the line with my sons watching it, fascinated, at eye level and greeted the next set of elderly ladies monitoring the vote submission on our way out. Afterward, we routinely celebrated with ice cream from FarFars (the best ice cream shop in Massachusetts) and awaited results.
Though sometimes my candidates didn’t win, I’ve always found reassurance in Election Day itself and the stability and warmth of my community. These are the neighbors, whatever their politics, who celebrated our milestone birthdays, hosted my sons for sleepovers, and dropped off casseroles when we suffered a family loss. They are good neighbors, good people, and a microcosm of the multitude of communities throughout our state and our nation.
Despite these challenging and exhausting times, I believe in our fundamental goodness, and this gives me hope for the upcoming election. Whatever the result, we will prevail and continue to care for one another in our communities.
At Salve Regina, though few of us live on campus as permanent residents, we have that same sense of community seen in small towns. We might not always agree, but we know that our Salve Regina neighbors would show up at 3:00 a.m. in an emergency, prepare a meal in a time of need, or send a note of support when we are struggling.
I am confident that at Salve Regina, we will weather the outcome of this election, and future elections, with our characteristic compassion, grace and mercy.
Love to all,