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God truly shed his grace on America

I

voted — along with a record number of others. It was a first time experience to go to our polls and get in a line of voters that trailed out the front door and looped down a long hallway.

The feeling was a mix of patriotism and gratitude. Certainly our forefathers endowed us with a voice we can definitely use at the ballot box, but for too many, that voice has been neglected. For me, I consider my voting right as my obligation to all those men and women who have had to sacrifice so much for my freedom to vote.

To understand the magnitude of our freedoms, we can examine the suppression of North Korea. Between 80,000 and 120,000 are held in prison camps. Those camps mean torture, beatings, starvation and oftentimes death while carrying out hard labor for 12 hours a day, seven days a week. People are encouraged to spy on any who oppose the emperor’s totalitarian system. Rewards are given to those reporting suspicious people, and the “guilty” are hauled off to prison camps, usually along with their entire family.

It’s estimated that 40 percent of the population is malnourished, and 24.7 million live in abject poverty. The average citizen eats twice a day. (During the famine of the ’90s, that diet meant tree bark, weeds, and undigested corn grains in animal excrement.) Electricity and decent plumbing are a rarity. Young men have to spend years doing military service which actually means hard labor on concentration sites. Many of the young women are forced to work in factories six days a week far from home and sleep in crowded dormitories. Sunday, their one day off, is centered on group discussions about how output can be improved. Paychecks average $1,000-$2,000 a year.

Drivers have to slow down when they pass bronze statues of Kim Jong-Un’s father and grandfather. Citizens are curious about the outside world but can only speak to foreigners when allowed. If caught saying the wrong thing, the citizens can end up in a prison camp.

There is no internet, and the one state-run newspaper reports to its readers that North Korea is the only functioning and prosperous nation on Earth.

Religion is banned; children are raised to worship Kim’s grandfather, and due to the constant indoctrination, they are especially vulnerable and have reported their own parents for religious activity. All marriage ceremonies must take place in front of one of the 34,000 statues of Kim II-sung throughout the country.

America — God shed his grace on thee! We can never know the extent of that grace until we observe the world around us and remember the sacrifices made by our own. So I will continue to vote, praise God for calling America my home and pray for countries like North Korea who exist under atrocious suppression.

Letters to Camille Anding can be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS, 39602, or e-mailed to camille@datalane.net.