By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine
With the recent passing of Senator John McCain much was said about honor, duty and service of an American hero. I was reminded of a young lady’s presentation when I was called in for Jury Duty. I have served over 10 years ago, and it was time once again to serve. I arrived at the designated location at the appointed time and was directed into a large room with over 350 people attending. We were seated one by one and were directed to sit next to the person in line ahead of us. There were no questions answered only directions and you could tell you had lost control the minute you arrived.
We sat together listening to instructions and occasionally someone would raise their hand only to find this was an unwelcome inquiry. They were told all their questions would be answered. Eventually we all understood to remain silent and the process would progress and end much quicker without interruptions.
The director was a very professional young lady. She could hold your attention and did so with her rapid-fire delivery and occasional aid from a county deputy if your phone rang or you got out of line by speaking to your neighbor. Once the crowd was under control and eager to get along with the process she began to educate us as to our duties and privileges as a U.S. citizen. Although the presentation was a canned speech it was well presented and very interesting.
She began by asking everyone that had served in the military to stand. There seemed to be somewhere around 60 people stand. Some were still in uniform. She said they should be recognized and thanked for their service and we did. She stated it was our duty and privilege to serve our country in the military. Their service made it possible for us all to be there that day.
The second privilege and duty she stated is to vote. It is every citizens responsibility to voice their opinions by voting. Those that served in the military made it possible for us to have the freedom, duty and privilege. Not to vote would be like saying to those who served and made it possible for us to vote, “Thanks but no thanks”. I have always voted but I must admit I had never looked at it that way. It really made me think.
Jury Duty is the third and why we were there that day. It is our duty to serve every 10 years. I had been called but never served on a jury. I was called and seated but after the questioning I was released because of my background. She explained to serve meant to answer the call as we had done today and show up. She said you may never actually sit on a jury but to serve in their eyes was to answer the call and show up. This was enlightening to me. I felt stronger about voting and I now felt I had answered the call to serve on the jury. It was good to hear what the definition of serving was to them.
Annette Cole Mastron, Southern Writers Magazine's Communications Director was sequestered on a jury and wrote a blog last year titled Writing and the Jury Pool.
For each of us in every endeavor we encounter we must answer the call and show up. Writing can be daunting, challenging and at times overwhelming. We must continue to answer the call and show up. It will not only benefit us but those that also desire to write will be inspired to do so.
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