There’s something important at the intersection of Election Day and Veterans Day: Our democracy

Straight on row of voting booths at polling station during American election. US flag in background.

Image via Shutterstock

By Pat Kreitlow

November 9, 2023

America literally cannot have one without the other—but it requires a heavier dose of respect than some people have been offering lately.

It’s around this time every November that we mark Veterans Day, an important holiday on the American calendar—and every other year in Wisconsin, we also have Election Day during this week. Most people probably see these days as two separate events. We really should put a greater emphasis on the link between them.

The men and women who’ve worn the uniform in the past or serve in our armed forces today have stepped up for a variety of reasons, but once they’re on duty there’s really only one objective that binds them all together: protecting the democracy that provides us with the freedoms and the quality of life that we rightly expect and should try to share with others. It’s hard to see that happening had the Founders decided to embrace monarchy or some other brand of authoritarianism.

Our veterans served to protect the right to choose our own leaders in free and fair elections. Nobody requires a service member or a veteran to be a Democrat or a Republican; what’s required is an allegiance to letting everyone make that choice of their own free will—whether they’re diehard Democrats, rock-ribbed Republicans, or independent of any deep party affiliation.

Because of the way our country settled into a system of only two major parties, we live in a place where we have “red” states with strong Republican majorities, “blue” states with strong Democratic majorities, and “purple” states like Wisconsin that are quite competitive in many elections. But we should be mindful that swing states can change. Florida used to be considered a swing state, but now it’s comfortably Republican. Georgia, on the other hand, has seen enough Democratic votes to put the state in play more often. It’s a reminder that no election should ever be taken for granted.

Right now, Wisconsin voters have immense power because so many of them are open to voting for candidates of either party. We’ll find out a year from now how that translates into votes for president, US Senate, the US House, and the state Legislature. Expect a hearty helping of messages from us about the importance of voting. A nation is counting us. The veterans we honor this week are counting on us to participate in the democracy they’ve helped protect. If you’re going to honor American service on one important November day, be sure to be part of national service on the other.


  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.



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