Readers of this column know that I do not often write about political issues. Those same readers would be mistaken, however, if they thought that this results from my lack of conviction or opinion about the political world that buffets our every breath, from the courthouse in Washington, Va., to what passes for a central government in Washington, D.C. But, occasionally, something comes along that I am unable to filter out, and columns like this one are the result.
Next week we have the opportunity to exercise one of the most important rights granted to us by our form of government. And, if you think that is an overstatement, look at what is going on in Hong Kong. Thousands of people are risking life and limb just to have a say in who will be nominated for coming elections. So, part of what I have to say is just get out there and vote. I will not tell you who to vote for. Inform yourself as best you can, and, please, try to get out and vote.
Now, here comes the opinion part. On the ballot next week will be a referendum that allows the surviving spouse of a citizen who was killed in action in service to our country to live in their home and be exempt from real estate taxes, if that surviving spouse has not remarried. The primary argument against this referendum is that it takes money from local governments that should be provided by the federal government.
I do not deny that the federal government has the primary responsibility for the care of our veterans and their families. However, waiting for the feds to address this issue . . . in our lifetime . . . is not something that gives me great hope. Here is an opportunity to do something, at a local level, to help the families of the men and women who gave their very lives for this country.
It would be nice if there was a new federal law on the books that allowed surviving spouses to live in their homes without paying real estate tax and provided compensating funds to the local jurisdictions. However, with the constipated system of government that currently reigns, I suggest you not hold your breath for that new federal statute.
Yes, there will be some impact at the local level. And, perhaps, there should be some way to assess need for the individuals impacted. This could be addressed in modifying legislation. But look around you. How many people do you know who fit the criteria set out in this referendum? We are blessed that the number is small. But it is not zero, and I, for one, am willing to help them.
In this county we have been asked to make sacrifices, in the form of tax increases, just about every year I have lived here, or so it seems. We are paying for a high school football team to travel five hours, one way, to Chincoteague, to play football. We have a garish, $17,000 neon-like sign in front of the high school that can hardly be read from the road without stopping your car, paid for with “extra” funds in the school administration budget. And I see little hope that these sorts of things are going to change anytime soon.
But, I will not begrudge that portion of my next tax increase that goes to help the surviving spouses of fellow citizens who gave their life for me. If you like, and you can justify it to yourself, you can vote no and wait for the feds to address this issue. Good luck with that. I hope you are willing to act locally and vote yes on this referendum.
One of the great things about living in Rappahannock is the spirit and willingness of the people to help out our communities and nonprofit organizations. Here in the Flint Hill area, we are blessed to have a number of such people. There is one, however, who deserves special recognition for her efforts, and if I could be so bold as to speak for the community, I would like to say, “Thank you, Deborah.”
Last week there was a trail ride to benefit the fire department. If memory serves, this was the seventh year for this fundraiser. This event was originally conceived and brought to fruition by Deborah Miloslavich. Like all events of this nature, it involves a lot of work, including preparation and planning. From A to Z, from food to porta-potties, from water for the horses to the availability of emergency personnel and equipment, from tents to trail maintenance, from registration to a myriad of details (and just what the heck is a “negative Coggins,” anyway?).
To be truthful about it, Deborah is in charge of everything. Yes, she has some good help. I think people have seen and recognized the enormous amount of time and effort that she puts into this event, and they want to help and be a part of it. It is true that this is a community and fire department event that needs and depends on the efforts of a lot of people. But it is also true that without Deborah there would be no trail ride.
There will no doubt be official thank-you notes to all involved. I just want the community to know who should be at the top of the thank-you list.