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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Memorial Day Remembrance in Central Park includes speech titled ‘Electoral Unity’


Above / Past Commander Pablo Araya, Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873; Harshee Shah, guest speaker; Chaplin Dick, American Legion Post 43; Commander Tom Parker, Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873; and Acting Commander Richard Karbarz, American Legion Post 43. Parker led the 2021 Naperville Memorial Day Observance Committee.

Veterans serve the Color Guard and the Honor Guard, showing traditions of respect for the Fallen Heroes during the Memorial Day Observance in Central Park.

The Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873 and the America Legion Post 43 in Naperville, Illinois, hosted the city’s Annual Memorial Day Remembrance in Central Park. The tribute to Fallen Heroes included a wreath laying at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument as well as patriotic music performed by the Naperville Municipal Band and the Firefighters Highland Guard of Naperville Bagpipers.

Past Commander Pablo Araya, Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873, served as emcee.

In recent years, voices of Naperville youth have been inspirational during the observance. Students who have written oratorical works for local competitions hosted by the Judd Kendall VFW and American Legion have been featured as keynote speakers. The 2021  ceremony included the award-winning address written and presented by 14-year-old Harshee Shah, a freshman at Naperville Central High School.

Harshee Shah, a freshman at Naperville Central High School. presented “Electoral Unity” as the community gathered in Central Park for its annual Memorial Day Remembrance.

Shah said her teacher, David Hollander, had encouraged her to enter the oratorical competition.

Harshee Shah, a freshman at Naperville Central High School, said her social studies teacher at Kennedy Junior High School, David Hollander, had encouraged her to enter the American Legion Oratorical Contest.

‘Electoral Unity’ by Harshee Shah

In 2016, upwards of 65 million eligible American citizens voted for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, while around 63 million voted for Donald Trump.

Pre-election polls had predicted that Clinton’s likelihood of winning the presidency was about 90 percent, and ultimately, she DID win the national popular vote by 2.2%.

Yet, when the Electoral College cast its votes in December of that year, Trump received 304 votes to Clinton’s 227 with seven electors defecting to other choices.

Trump had won.

But why? After all, Clinton had won the vote of the people. Why did the electoral college need to interfere with the outcome of the election?

The political events of the 2020 election have confused me. Between American citizens standing wearily at the polls, dropping absentee ballots into their mailboxes, or hearing of counting procedures and poll watchers, or certification of votes and electors, I was witnessing the cumbersome electoral process and my head was spinning. I had first heard of the electoral college 4 years ago, when the popular vote results of the election did not match that of the electors.

At that point, all I could think about was how unfair it was that voters were cheated out of one of their fundamental rights as citizens of the United States. But this time around, I realized that like so many Americans, I had developed a single, biased story around the electoral college. This time, though, I decided to give it another chance.

The electoral college institution was established in Article 2, Section 7 of the United States Constitution, later being amended by the Twelfth and Twenty-third amendments, elucidating the process. Although the term, “the Electoral College” does not literally appear in the Constitution, it instead refers to the process of how the president of our nation is elected.

As the 26th Amendment describes, citizens of the United States are entitled to the right to vote, so long as they are 18 years old and have not been convicted of a felony. Every year, millions of citizens exercise this right, and this year, records were broken. On average, about 59% of the eligible U.S voter population participates in the national election. This year, however, 67%; nearly 160 million citizens voted; expecting to directly affect the results of the election. Yet when the electoral college came into the picture, many Americans felt betrayed by the concept that their vote wasn’t being fulfilled if there was a “middle man” involved.

But as surprising as it may sound, the “middle man” only makes our votes count more. As much as we want to deny it, most of us in the United States have a very limited notion of what the electoral college is, partly due to the fact that we have over simplified this truly complicated process. We think that with the electoral college, a man residing in Cheyenne, Wyoming will hold 3 times more voting power than another citizen from San Francisco. But as much as we want to make the electoral college the enemy here, we must be willing to make an effort to understand the facts; which is that the Electoral College voting process spreads the power among the states more “smoothly” than population counts would.

The classic example of California and Wyoming shows this clearly. The population ratio between the two states is about 70:1, but the Electoral College ratio between them is more like 20:1. This is seen as unfair to California, but if we value the political entity called the “State,” Wyoming would be IRRELEVANT if population was the primary measure. The Electoral College keeps all the states in play for relevance.

By voting, we, as citizens, have a voice in our government to help ensure that its democratic representative system is maintained. By abolishing the electoral college, we will be giving significantly less, to virtually no representation to states with smaller populations. But by preserving this institution, we will also be preserving the state and electoral unity.

Now, I’m not saying that we must silence our yearning for a democracy, I’m essentially trying to convey that a direct democracy would change our nation more than people may realize.
And yes, at first, the results of the 2016 election were shocking. Parts of our nation were enraged; how could the candidate with less popular votes win the electors’ vote? What was going on here?

Well, much like the few other times when the popular and the electoral college vote differed, the popular vote was very close; between 0-3%. In this situation, it really was debatable who was the preferred candidate.

And the electors represent their state’s voters. In this case, enough states preferred Trump that their electoral count surpassed 270, the amount he needed to claim victory.

Still, many believe that the National Popular Vote Initiative will suffice as a better, more fair alternative to the electoral college. But the truth is, it will only make our voting process unfair. This initiative would commit a state to supporting the candidate who won the national popular vote, regardless of how the state voted. Worse, it further disenfranchises its own state voters by saying, if they have disagreed with the popular majority in the nation, that their voting will have no effect at all. Some states’ votes will rarely matter.

So many times, we have faced the political dilemma that is a difference in the electoral vote and the popular vote.

It can get a little difficult to understand why it is that the electoral vote determines the outcome of the election when the popular vote differs nonetheless? And frankly, this is why we must take the step by ourselves to better understand the laws that govern us.

We, as citizens of the United States must be willing to trust the document that defines our nation; the Constitution. But, we can only do this through unity. Unity that we are a nation our Founding Fathers and Framers built with very elaborate principles; alongside “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” remains the fact that we are the United STATES of America, and it is our job, every generation’s job to work so hard to preserve that union.

The union that stood from the day our Framers wrote the Constitution in 1787 to today, in 2021. In order to do this, we must have faith in the electoral unity that guides this nation to move forward one stride, one state, one citizen at a time.

I think that too often, we fail to bridge the divide that separates us between red and blue states. We must look out for every citizen, regardless of their state or political views. With a national popular vote, so many will be ignored, silenced, and forgotten, and as one people, we cannot let that happen.

BIBLIOGRAPHY (Submitted by Harshee Shah)

Downie, James. “We Need a National Popular Vote – before It’s Too Late.” The
Washington Post, WP Company, 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/.

Guelzo, Allen, et al. “In Defense of the Electoral College.” National Affairs, NA, 2016,

Writer, Gilder Lehrman Staff. “Arguments for The Electoral College.” Gilder Lehrman, GL, 2012, www.gilderlehrman.org/sites/default/files/inline-pdfs/Arguments%20for%20the%2 0Electoral%20College_0.pdf.

Pedia, Wiki. “2016 United States Presidential Election.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia
Foundation, 27 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_United_States_presidential_election.

Writer, Times Staff. “Here’s Why the Electoral College Is Fair: Letters.” Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Bay Times, 9 Nov. 2020, www.tampabay.com/opinion/2020/11/09/heres-why-the-electoral-college-is-fair-letters/.

Writer, Ballotpedia Staff. “Electoral College.” Ballotpedia, BL, 2020, ballotpedia.org/Electoral_College

Memorial Day remembrances return May 30, 2022 

The Naperville community has organized Memorial Day observances to pay respect to Fallen Heroes since 1928. 

Remember to save the date for 2022 when the annual Memorial Day Observance at the Community Concert Center in Central Park returns at noon on May 30, the last Monday of May. 

Our community was blessed with cameras from many news sources, near and far. We received news that the Naperville Memorial Day Parade was featured on the NBC national newscast. Watch it here: (www.youtube.com).

Thanks to the Naperville Memorial Day Committee led this year by Tom Parker, Commander of the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873. Thanks to the VFW, the American Legion Post 43 and the City of Naperville as well as thousands of appreciative spectators, this community remembers, “Freedom Isn’t Free.” 

The Sept. 11 / Commander Dan Shanower Memorial along the Naperville Riverwalk is a place to pause and reflect every day. View the Century Walk sculpture “Lean On Me” that features a print of the boot of Commander Dan Shanower, a Naperville native who died in the Pentagon attack on Sept. 11, 2001. The Wall of Faces and other remembrances of respect demonstrate the high cost that “Freedom Isn’t Free.”

Past Commander Pablo Araya, a Navy Veteran, reminds us of the three words spoken by his friend Cmdr. Dan Shanower who is remembered at the Sept. 11 Memorial along the Riverwalk. Again, “Freedom isn’t free.”

Thanks for reading. —PN

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