At first, I was going to complain. You see, my son Ben, 20, is attending college on the East Coast. The day he turned 18, he registered to vote. This was to be his first presidential primary, and he was excited. Of course, he'd have to vote by absentee ballot. The Stanislaus County registrar had his address, and he had the registrar's phone number -- a number he used several times to ask where his ballot was.
It finally showed up just three days before Tuesday's primary. Too late to get it back by regular mail, he paid the post office $16.25 to overnight it to the registrar.
I thought about complaining, but then I thought about other young men and women his age away from home -- tens of thousands of them serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere -- and the price they are paying to vote. I thought about the citizens of those countries and other emerging democracies lining up for hours just to vote, sometimes at the risk of their lives. I thought about the violence that often precedes elections, including in our neighbor to the south, Mexico.
The fact that a younger generation has come out to vote in such unprecedented numbers should give older generations hope that our nation is on a new path; that our democracy is healthy and that the cost of freedom -- whether $16.25 or much more -- cannot be taken for granted.