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She was 11 when the Twin Towers fell. Now, about to cast her first ballot, the war in Iraq fuels her interest in politics.
By By Jamie Sheirer, Special to the Times
Published December 10, 2007
I plan to exercise my right to vote.
And as the presidential election nears, I find myself searching rigorously for a candidate who holds the same beliefs I do and presents a plan I can support. This may be the most important presidential race our country has ever seen because of what lies ahead for our nation, and my research always comes back to one enormous, controversial issue: the war in Iraq.
Such passion doesn't strike me by coincidence. Every time I think of the war I think of where it all began and how I was affected that September morning in 2001.
At my naive 11 years, I couldn't grasp the complexity of the situation. I knew that two towers I admired as a child growing up in New York City were burning to the ground. I knew I was witnessing the loss of thousands of lives as I stared blankly for hours at my television. What I didn't know was where my uncle was; no one did.
The only thing I knew, as images of death and destruction kept scrolling across the TV screen, was that he had gone to work that morning in Building No. 7 of the World Trade Center complex, and that his title was director of the Office of Emergency Management for the city of New York. My uncle was fortunate to live through 9/11. Several of his friends and former colleagues of the FDNY and NYPD, as well as thousands of other innocent Americans, where not so fortunate.
When I was chosen to attend Presidency IV, a Republican Party convention in Orlando in October, I seized the opportunity. I wanted the chance to sift out the correct candidate for me.
The weekend concluded with a Republican debate, televised on Fox News. I listened intently to each candidate's position on every issue, but paid special attention to each man's position on the war.
I thought about how I have been affected. I considered how the entire nation has been affected since 9/11. I felt so much passion for the cause I was supporting - a cause that supports a continued offensive approach to terrorism. Such passion makes me feel that war is a necessary evil. It was the type of emotion that made me want to invoke activism, immediately.
And then I realized how important it was that I felt so passionately about that issue, because without that passion, I wouldn't be sitting in that convention hall, engulfed in the political process.
I left Orlando not only having found my candidate, but also seeking to learn more about Rudy Giuliani and his views on other issues facing our nation.
Jamie Sheirer, 17, is in 12th grade at Clearwater Central Catholic High and a participant in the Poynter Institute's High School Journalism Program. Photo provided by freelance photographer Jim Stem.
[Last modified December 7, 2007, 15:39:38]