BY DAVID PERRYMAN
Although the 1969 movie Wake Me Up When the War is Over, starring Ken Berry as an American Lieutenant and Eva Gabor as a German baroness was a comedic spoof set around the end of World War II, its premise is not unheard of.
In order to keep the soldier with her, the Baroness fails to tell him the war ended while he was unconscious and under her care.
Real life examples of soldiers and sailors who continue to fight beyond war’s end have occurred several times in our country’s history.
Andrew Jackson became an American war hero when he led his soldiers to a tremendous victory over the British in January 1815 in the Battle of New Orleans, nearly three weeks after the Treaty of Ghent ended the War of 1812.
In June 1865, the CCS Shenandoah, on a mission to cripple commerce in the Union states, captured more than 20 Yankee whaling ships in Alaska’s Bering Straight. The successful sea campaign took place more than two months after Robert E. Lee had surrendered to General Ulysses Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse.
In maybe the most bizarre example of belated battlefield enlightenment, Japanese Intelligence Officer Hiroo Onado was found on a remote island in the Philipines in 1974 still awaiting further orders and wearing the tattered remnants of his uniform 29 years after Emperor Hirohito’s Imperial forces had surrendered in Tokyo Bay.
Missing the end of a war is one thing but failing to participate in the electoral battles at hand is irresponsible and reprehensible.
Nonvoters have no one except themselves to blame when our government does not reflect the needs of our people. Only when the masses engage in the voting process can we reclaim our democracy.
In 1992, 98% of the eligible voters in our state were registered. In 2014, the percentage of eligible voters who took the time to register had dropped to 74% and of that number, only 40.7% voted. Those numbers mean that only 29% of Oklahoma’s eligible voters cast a ballot in 2014.
Frustratingly, younger voters, those between 18 and 45, were the most derelict in their civic duty. Less than one in five of them voted in 2014. More than 80% of Oklahomans under 45 years of age who were eligible to vote bothered to cast a ballot although they are the very citizens who are struggling under tons of student debt, cannot afford health insurance or medical care, are suffering income inequality, cannot afford to purchase a home, and are having the benefits of public education pulled from under their feet.
According to a poll conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 62.4% of registered voters were either too busy, were out of town, forgot or were not interested. Nearly two out of three voters who did not vote just didn’t believe that their future or their economic circumstances were important enough for them to take the time to vote.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if these folks slept through the battles that end their own democracy? Wake them up before the war is over.
– David Perryman, a Chickasha Democrat, represents District 56 in the Oklahoma House