For years after what is known as "the Revolution" in my native country, Romania, my parents would dress up as if going to a fancy party and go cast their vote on Election Day. My father in a suit and tie, my mother as elegant as I have ever seen her. They had been living under communism all their lives, stripped of their rights by a totalitarian regime that took away people's dignity, their property and any individual freedom. This was my parents' way to celebrate being able to exercise their newly gained right to vote and feel that they were finally part of a democratic society. I watched their almost sacred ritual before I was able to vote and, when my turn came, I exercised it every single election year. Voting was both a privilege and a duty my parents taught me.
In 2008, I was here but unable to vote, watching every debate and awaiting the final election results, my heart almost pounding out of my chest.
Now, I am an American citizen, no longer just a spectator watching from the sidelines. I carefully prepared, did my homework and felt as informed as any responsible voter can be. I was so excited to cast my ballot, not at all dissuaded that California always votes Democratic. My vote for president might not have mattered as much as an Ohio vote, but I know my vote counted. To people who think otherwise, I tell them your vote is a tribute to the women, to the minorities, to all of the people who had to fight for this fundamental right. I dedicated my vote to my parents who first showed me that voting is truly a reason for celebration. No matter the result, the process is worth enjoying and making a big deal out of. So on November 6, 2012 it was my turn to put on the fancy clothes and, with a bit of nervousness, cast my first vote as a new American.
With a Perspective, I'm Gabriela Pasat.
Gabriela Pasat is the clinic manager at the Marin City Health and Wellness Center.