Racing Time

One of our favorite parts of summer is laying on the couch on a warm Sunday and dozing off to the roar of the engines and the excitement in Darrell Waltrip’s voice with NASCAR on the TV. Somehow, we always end up dreaming about racing one of our own cars.

If you’ve ever had the same dream and want to do something about it, there are a lot of ways for you to test your mettle behind the wheel, no matter what you drive.

The easiest way to start is to find a local autocross event, usually offered under the auspices of the Sports Car Club of America (https://www.scca.com). You’re probably not going to be competitive in a bone stock Cruz, but if you’ve got a valid driver’s license, a helmet, and are OK risking knocking over some orange cones, you’re good to go. Since you’re only racing against the clock, any danger is minimized, and courses are  usually set up in large, empty parking lots with a big safety margin in mind. All you need to do to get started is find an event near you: https://www.scca.com/pages/find-your-fun.

The best part is that a day of racing is usually around $50, although that may be the most expensive $50 you ever spend, because you’ll want to make some improvements to your car for the next race (or start eying a new Ford Focus RS). Autocross classes run the spectrum from factory stock through various bolt-on modifications, to cars built specifically for autocross, so there is a class to match your level of interest, finances, and skill.

If you like your fun a little more on the dirty side, SCCA also holds timed solo dirt track rallycross racing. Just like in autocross, the tracks are set up on flat ground with safety in mind, and are open to stock daily drivers as well as cars with slight modifications (studded tires, custom suspensions), and custom rally racers.

Once you’ve got a little more confidence, the SCCA also offers head-to-head racing, although this requires a larger investment of time and money. You’ll need to be an SCCA member, pass a physical, and earn a racing license from a certified driver school event. You’ll also need a proper racing suit and other equipment, and will want to bring a friend or two that know how to wrench to be your pit crew. At this point, to be competitive you’ll need a dedicated car that has been modified to meet race rules (available here: https://www.scca.com/pages/cars-and-rules).

SCCA also offers special classes and races for vintage cars, karts (a great way to start kids in racing), and even custom built college team cars, although these can be harder to find.

Of course, if you’re more into pure muscle, there’s also amateur drag racing. You COULD pull up next to someone at a stoplight and give them the traditional rev and nod, but that tends to get expensive once the blue lights start flashing. Instead, if you’ve got a local race track, you’ve probably got an opportunity to see what your car can do in a quarter mile. While there is not a single organizing body like SCCA for drag racing, most local tracks offer an amateur race, and there is almost always an entry class requiring little more than a working seat belt and a helmet.

Since we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t mention it, if you start racing and inevitably need to upgrade your car to compete, don’t forget to upgrade your garage with one of our Backyard Buddy lifts. As always, we are here at (800) 837-9353 from 8:00 to 5:00 Eastern time to help you find the lift that meets your needs. See you on the track!

5 Things to Consider When Buying the Best Car Lift

Buying a new car lift is not exactly as exciting as a buying a new car. However, picking the best car lift is nearly as important as picking the car you’re going to put on it.  There is nothing worse than thinking you’ve picked a quality product, only to learn later that it is substandard in design and, crucially, safety.

But with so many companies and brands of auto lifts to choose from, making the right choice for your auto needs can be difficult.  It’s necessary to understand the differences between lift designs, and make decisions based on the quality of the lift and its manufacturer.  Just like a car, if you want find out how well your auto lift will function, you need to “pop the hood”!  Whether you’re a mechanic working in a full-scale garage or a car collector who needs a car lift for the home garage, you’ll want to consider these 5 things to buy the best car lift:

Car Lift Column and Lock Design

The Column and Lock design is one of the most important things to consider as relates to the safety of your auto lift.  The leg and slider combo of a lift determines its rigidity— will it wobble, or will it stand firm under the pressure of your vehicle? To know for sure, all you really need to consider is whether the column and lock is designed as an “inside plastic slider” or an “outside steel sleeve.” The inside plastic slider is the design to avoid! These designs have a smaller plastic material block that rides inside an open-sided, bent thin gauge leg, to keep the sliders and lock inside the leg. Unfortunately, this means the legs can also pivot and wobble where the sliders meet the leg. On the other hand, outside steel slider joints are engineered much differently, because they use steel tubing to wrap around the outside of the leg instead of plastic blocks on the inside. Steel equals rigidity! An outside steel slider creates a solid joint that eliminates wobble and keeps your vehicle secure.

Power Unit

Picture this: you push the button on your lift to engage the power unit, and begin lifting your classic car. You’re approaching the garage ceiling, and it’s time to shut off the power. But instead of stopping, the motor keeps running— and your car keeps rising. In a matter of seconds, you’ve turned your classic into a crunch of scrap metal. How could this happen? Probably because your lift’s power unit came from an overseas distributor whose power units are prone to failure. A lot of Chinese units pull upwards of 30 amps, and only offer a 90-day warranty on the life of the power unit. You’re probably planning to own your auto lift for more than 90 days… so you should have a power unit that is also designed to last for much longer.  Before making a lift purchase, do some digging to find out where the power unit has been constructed. For companies like us at Backyard Buddy, American-made power units (and our 5-year warranty) are the standard put into all our auto lifts.

Construction

What kind of stuff is your lift made of?  From the cables to the lock linkage to the shape and material of the metal, how your auto lift is constructed will speak to its quality and safety.  In considering cables, a respectable rule of thumb is: if you cannot see cable coming out of the lift’s threaded end cable, they aren’t good cables.  Good cables have flexibility, strength, and intelligent design. Since cables are responsible for hoisting the weight of your car, these are three vital components you want your cables to possess!  Lock linkage is another little detail that will give you a good indication of a lift’s quality, but it’s also one of the most underrated. Steel rods that are 3/8 inch, with precision rod ends, offer positive locking and a smooth quality feel. This kind of rod engages properly so your lift locks every time. In contrast, cheaply-made lifts usually use 1/4 inch rods with cheap ends; these rods can bend and fail to activate the locking mechanism on a lift— a safety hazard waiting to happen. Don’t overlook those little details! Finally, what metal makes up your lift determines the lift’s durability.  American-made steel lift frames have been proven to outlast foreign steel, and be much stronger, because they lack the impurities that make “off-shore” steel difficult to weld properly.

Functionality

No matter what you intend to use your lift for— working on your car, storing multiple cars, conserving space in the garage— you want a lift that has functionality within its space, and also compatibility with accessories that can increase lift functions.  For example, if you’re a city dweller, where real estate is limited and storage is expensive, a residential car lift should afford you an increase in storage by stacking two vehicles safely on top of each other (so
you’ve got room for the minivan and the Maserati!). But what else can your lift do? Being able to add accessories, like hard rubber casters, increase functionality by making that auto lift easy to move around your space, so you can work in or organize your garage efficiently.  The more customizable the lift, the better it’ll suit your lifestyle.

Warranty

As mentioned earlier, you’re probably planning to own your car lift for a long time. Which means it needs to maintain working order for a long time.  Any distributor that has a warranty full of caveats and asterisks, or a “ship and wait policy,” should automatically raise a red flag.  An auto lift that offers a free, no-questions-asked policy, or has an extended warranty period, is going to give you the best (and most long-lasting) bang for your buck.  For example, at Backyard Buddy, we offer a warranty of 5 years top to bottom, with no fine print to wade through.  Extended warranties are also available at the time of lift purchase.  When buying your lift, always ask about the warranty!

Once you’ve considered these 5 things while buying a car lift— column and lock design, power unit, construction, functionality, and warranty— you’ll be on the right track to choosing the best lift to fit your needs and your life.  When it comes to car lifts, you truly get what you pay for. Considering the key elements that go into an auto lift, from the initial construction to the after-purchase warranty, will help you determine what is worth the most— a lift’s price, or its value? When you’re driving your car, you want that car to be safe, reliable, and maybe a little bit impressive. You should expect the same from your car lift!

Backyard Buddy’s Easy-Access Rolling Jack System

Easy-access rolling jack stand system

Easy-Access

We love telling you all about our Backyard Buddy four-post lifts and all of the ways they can make your life easier, but did you know that our lifts have a little brother than can also help you out, either by itself or used as a space saver with one of our lifts?

Backyard Buddy’s Easy-Access

gives you all the portability of jack stands with the durability, safety, and ease of movement that you’d expect from our full-sized lifts. This two-piece system unobtrusively slides under your vehicle and can be placed just about anywhere you can lift with a floor jack.

With a variety of different stands, pads, and bars, the adjustable Easy-Access can be used to hold a frame, body, or complete car, and can hold a vehicle more than 2 feet off the ground for easy access. This gives you enough room to work underneath your project on a creeper, while also saving your back when working from above.

Easy-Access is also stable and strong enough to be used as a dolly for a partial build or a full vehicle. You can easily roll your project around the shop on Easy Access’ heavy-duty casters, allowing you do things like move it outside for dirty jobs, or even stash your project under a car on a four-post Backyard Buddy lift when you’re not working on it.

Just like our full-sized lifts, Easy-Access uses American certified structural steel, making it strong enough to hold 6,000 pounds and stable enough to roll even the heaviest load on its casters. Its tough powder coated finish will take just about anything you can dish out, and provides excellent resistance to damage and rust.

One of the best parts about Easy-Access is that when you’re done with it, it’s small enough to fit under a workbench until it’s needed again. And just like all of our products, it’s proudly made in the USA by American workers.

To learn more about Easy Access, check out its page on our site: http://www.backyardbuddy.com/backyard-buddy-easy-access.html. To watch a video of Sam Memmolo from Sam’s Garage demonstrating Easy-Access, click here: https://youtu.be/Xg6BXPvv7qI?t=261

As always we’re happy to show off any of our products in our showroom in Warren, Ohio, or to help you find the best product to fit your needs any time during business hours at (800) 837-9353.

Classics & Modern Cars — there’s more to it than meets the eye.

What drives a person to want to invest in American Classics? (Pun intended.)

There has been much discussion over the decades amongst car collectors, forum debaters, and  salesmen within the auto industry on the pros and cons of buying “American.” Depending on the product, angle of presentation and/or a person’s prejudices, answers may vary.
Regardless the angle or opinions you may have that has shaped your perspective on these cars, history tells a story that is worth repeating.

They have and continue to hold a unique place in the heart of car buyers for many reasons and patriotism isn’t their main incentive. While there isn’t one simple answer to this, a combination of factors play a part and some may surprise you!

A classic car has a story

A classic car has a story and for many, when they encounter a classic, history speaks: engine sounds, hand-crafted auto parts, genuine leather, uniqueness and style unparalleled by modern-day car finds. Before assembly lines and robots, cars were treasured and parts were thoughtfully and carefully made by hand. Designers and craftsmen were not hindered by constraints such as crash tests or aerodynamic drag coefficients. Instead, they were free to explore and reflect current trends and culture, delivering desirable and memorable treasures that could stand, and have stood, the test of time.

Mechanically, modern cars are quite different when it comes to car control and operation. Modern engines are now a sealed unit with components that are usually unserviceable by the average person. Advancements in technology have influenced car designers to embrace electrical systems that can now control steering, clutch usage, torque vectoring, and more.
While these systems seem to offer improvements on efficiency and safety, car character and uniqueness are really lacking. Older machines are intricate mechanical systems that function not off of pre-calculated driver aids installed within an electronic-brain, but in harmony with thousands of individual parts tuned to work together and dependent upon direct input from the driver. Today’s modern vehicle just can’t compete with this type of authentic driving experience.

One thing is for sure, getting a new car serviced can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out with the amount of money it can take to fix a problem! Take changing a fuel pump for example. What takes one person thirty minutes of work on a 1955 Chevrolet and $45 in parts might take multiple people and a lot more time to do on a 2006 Saturn. A complete assembly would be required because the gas-gauge sending unit is built-in and the fuel pump is located inside the gas tank which would have to be emptied and dropped in order to get to! The times have changed the way we take care of our cars and now due to complex engineering and electronic systems we usually have to pay someone else to get the job done.

Classic cars

Classic cars offer the driver and admirer personal experience, unique style, and an appreciation for true craftsmanship. All of which is hard to find in most modern cars manufactured by robots and in assembly lines for fast reproduction and quick money. While modern cars are safer, faster, more dependable, and more economical than the cars of the past, many classics have stood the test of time and have lived to tell about it, making car owners proud on many levels.
Your grand kids’ “classic car” will be a lot different than the ones in your Backyard Buddy Lift today. Soon the Chevrolet Stingray, will rest in your grandson’s garage taking the place of your 1969 Boss 429 Mustang, and it will be his most prized possession.

So when it comes to comparing classics and modern cars, you can see that “there’s more to it than meets the eye.”    Investing in or having a special interest in Classics goes beyond what many would say is a hobby. It’s a coveted experience that keeps driving us towards them and leaving us in awe of a different era and timeless memories packaged in steel, leather, and sounds.

Car Collection displayed on Backyard Buddy lifts

This classic car collector trusts Backyard Buddy

Most Underappreciated Classics to Consider This Spring

Spring is in the air, and if you’re like us, this is the time when a young (or not so young) man’s thoughts turn to buying a classic car to work on this summer.

We know that not everyone has a Shelby GT budget (or even a kit car Shelby budget), so we wanted to talk about some cars that get you a lot of oomph without draining your wallet. We’ve got to thank the folks over at Hagerty’s classic car insurance for their classic car valuation tool, which handled the numbers part of this list.

Some of their most undervalued classics are:

•    First Generation Mazda Miata (1989-97- $5,000): If you aren’t fooled by its reputation for cuteness (and don’t mind always having the top down if you’re over 6’2”), it’s hard to beat this little convertible. With tens of thousands still on the road 20 years after the original line was ended, you can still fix one fairly easily.
•    C5 Chevy Corvette (1997-2004- $15,000): Thanks to depreciation, it’s possible to own a Corvette for less than you’d pay for the most stripped down new econo-box. They’ve got some years on them now, but Corvettes are some of the most pampered cars on the road, so you’re likely to find a C5 model in great shape.
•    Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe (1984-88- $6.000): Even though it’s from the 80s, the T-bird Turbo Coupe feels like the child of a 1960s American muscle car and a European performance sedan, and was Motor Trend’s car of the year in 1987. 30 years later, these are a bit hard to find, but still fun to drive.
•    Porsche 914 (1969-1976- $12,000): While not a powerhouse like a modern 911, the 914 is often considered the pinnacle of lightweight, low-power design where the fun comes from nimbleness, not raw power. With a choice of a flat-four or flat-six air cooled engine and a distinctive body, it should come as no surprise that the 914 was designed as the replacement for Volkswagen’s iconic Karmann Ghia.
•    Studebaker Avanti (1962-1963- $20,000): The rarest car on this list, the Avanti was the swan song for a venerable American car maker. While it never captured the public imagination, the Avanti featured an innovative fiberglass body with looks that were 20 years ahead of their time, and a 240hp V8 that gave it plenty of muscle. If you can find one of the roughly 6,000 made, buy it and be the only guy you know who has one.
•    Volkswagen Corrado VR6 (1992-1995- under $5,000): Originally designed as a replacement for the Porsche 944, the Corrado VR6 packed nearly 200 horsepower into a sporty 2,800 pound car with German handling. If you can find one that hasn’t been destroyed by a teenage boy, and don’t mind the mysteries of VW electrical systems, you can get a lot of speed for a tiny bit of cash.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. If you do your homework and can be happy with a more obscure car, there are still plenty of deals to be had, particularly in late-classic-era cars (full sized convertibles from the late 60s to the mid 70s are a steal, especially if you know how to fix a top), oddball pickups and work trucks, cousins of classics (a ‘67 Mercury Cougar GT is thousands less than a comparable Mustang, but has almost the exact same specs), and professional cars (what’s cooler than tooling around in a late 60s station wagon turned ambulance?).

And remember, a Backyard Buddy lift can help you double the space in your garage while giving you a great platform to easily work on your new find. Give us a call and then get out there and look for your next treasure

Treat Yourself

Now that your Christmas shopping is done, it’s time to get yourself something nice

If you’re like most of our customers, you’ve just spent a lot of effort and money buying nice things for everyone but yourself. We have no doubt that you’re great at playing Santa, but now it’s time to think about getting yourself something nice, something that will make it easier to work on your hobby, take care of the family car, or keep your garage organized this winter.

Since you’re on our site, you can probably guess what we’re about to suggest: This winter, make your life better with a Backyard Buddy lift.

For hobbyists, a Backyard Buddy lift is a great way to remove some of the less-than-enjoyable parts of working on your vehicle. You can trade in laying on a cold garage floor and hoping your jack stand holds up while you work on the underside of your vehicle for sitting or standing while you work. You’ll never want to use a creeper again once you’ve installed an exhaust system while sitting on a stool, or replaced your brakes at eye level.

If you live in a snowy climate like we do, a Backyard Buddy lift can help keep you out of the freezing slush and cold water that comes in with your car any time you need to make a repair to your daily driver. Just put it on the lift and let the snow drip off at your feet. No more soaked-through back and knees while working.

Even if you’re not planning to work on your car in the winter, a Backyard Buddy lift can make your life easier. Our vehicle lifts can help you get back valuable real estate in your garage, and are safe enough for you to lift your vehicle out of the way and put mowers, bikes, snow blowers, garden supplies, and other garage clutter under all winter long. Drive up onto your lift, lift your vehicle to the ceiling, and enjoy brand new floor space.

We also have a special boat lift that is specifically designed to accommodate most 102 inch boat trailers. Your boat can spend the winter on the lift and your car can have some garage space back to keep it out of the snow. We also offer a solid deck for our 7,000 pound capacity lifts so that you can store ATVs, jet skis, snowmobiles, lawn tractors, or other mid-sized items on our lifts.

Backyard Buddy also offers a variety of lift accessories to make your life even easier. Our caster set allows you to move our lifts around, even with a vehicle on them. Combine our casters with our crane accessory and you can pick up and drop engines into your vehicle, move heavy objects around your garage, and even pull a body off of a frame for painting or body work. Our hydraulic jacks allow you to raise the front or rear of your vehicle off of the lift with the flip of a switch so that you can comfortably work on your wheels or brakes. If you’d rather use your own jack, our jack platforms easily roll along the length of the lift and support any kind of jack (including our two-ton air jack).

Now that your Christmas shopping is done, it’s time to get yourself something nice. Give us a call at (800) 837-9353 any time between 8:00 and 4:30 EST, and we will help you customize a gift to yourself that will make you happy for years.  Merry Christmas!

Support Small Businesses

Backyard Buddy as a small business

Looking around our factory floor and seeing the intricate dance of workers and machines, you may find it hard to think of Backyard Buddy as a small business, but on a global scale — and compared to some of our foreign competitors — we definitely are.

We don’t say this as something we’re in a hurry to change.

Small businesses, which for our sector is those with fewer than 1,500 employees, are one of the largest drivers of the American economy. The economic recovery since 2009 has been almost completely reliant on small businesses, including people who are self-employed. According to the U.S. Small Business Association, businesses like Backyard Buddy, with less than 500 employees, were responsible for 74% of the jobs created since our economic recovery began in 2009.

Unfortunately, you’d never know this unless you dig deep into the media. Most economic reporting focuses on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (mostly made up of the largest companies in the world) and the S&P 500 (made up of 500 large companies). While both of these are showing positive signs, it is companies like Backyard Buddy, and thousands of other small businesses that are quietly driving our recovery, creating jobs, and making sure the American economy stays strong.

Why does this affect you?

If you’re an American, and you’ve got the device and internet connection to read this, you’re part of the American economy. In a very real way the economic growth provided by small businesses is one of the reasons that you have a job (and by the numbers, your job is likely to be at a small business) and can provide for your family. Even if you’re retired and think this doesn’t apply to you, your pension or investments depend on the continued growth of our economy, driven by small business.

If that’s too esoteric for you, consider that small businesses are better for the consumer. In our case, we’re able to make a better product than our competitors because our business model needs to be centered on a quality product and happy customers. We don’t have or want the capacity to make our living on getting junk products out the door as fast as possible.

In addition to a better product, customers get better service at a small business, where the person you’re talking to on the phone or in the store probably has detailed knowledge of the product or service that they sell, and in many cases has made the product themselves. Thanks to the global economy and manufacturers controlling prices of their products, you will often pay the same for something purchased from a local business as you would from a multinational big box chain, and get the added benefit of service, something almost impossible to find in chains.

Still looking for more reasons, maybe something nobler? When you buy from an American small business, your money stays in your country, and in many cases right in your community. Small businesses are also far more likely to then also spend that money in your community, either through paying salaries to local residents, or investing it back into the business. When you buy from a global business, your money almost always leaves the U.S. and far too often ends up in an offshore bank account where it pads the company’s cash reserves or just makes a wealthy person wealthier.

As the holiday season approaches, we ask that you spend your hard-earned money at small businesses to not only give someone in your life a gift, but to give all of us the gift of a strong community, a strong job market, and a strong national economy.

To find small businesses in your community (for everything other than vehicle lifts and accessories, which you know exactly where to find), check out this searchable map from the American Express Shop Small program: https://shopsmallnow.americanexpress.com/shopsmall.

Let’s Work Together

I don’t know about you, but if I never see another political ad again, I’ll die a happy man.  This was one of the most tumultuous presidential elections I’ve ever witnessed, and I’ve been around for a little while.  Whichever side of the aisle you stand, you have to admit that there was far too much negative rhetoric being hurled at the other side.

The result of this election stunned “the establishment,” shocked the mainstream media, and left the pundits asking, “How could we have been so wrong?”  Even The New York Times’ publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. admitted the paper failed to appreciate Donald Trump’s appeal.  He is quoted as saying, “After such an erratic and unpredictable election there are inevitable questions: Did Donald Trump’s sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters?”

He’s not the only one asking those questions.  And there are a large number of people who are pretty damn angry about him winning.  But the Electoral College spoke volumes on election night; it was a sea of red.  Our president-elect is a candidate who appealed to Americans who felt unheard.  He listened.  They voted.

I employ nearly 30 hard-working, blue collar workers; many who have families to support.  During this economic decline; they’ve had no voice.  I stumbled on an explanation of this year’s presidential election outcome by Mike Rowe, former host of “Dirty Jobs” on The Discovery Channel.  He wrote a Facebook post comparing Trump’s White House win to his 2003 “Dirty Jobs” pilot on The Discovery Channel.  His reasoning sure makes sense to me.

This is an excerpt from a November 11, 2016 article in The Washington Times, titled, “Mike Rowe Explains the Real Reason Donald Trump Won” —

“It wasn’t pretty or careful. It took place in sewers and septic tanks, and featured a subversive host in close contact with his 8-year-old inner child who refused to do second takes,” the 54-year-old wrote. “Everyone agreed that Dirty Jobs was totally ‘off-brand’ and completely inappropriate for Discovery. Everyone but the viewers.

“Dirty Jobs didn’t resonate because the host was incredibly charming. It wasn’t a hit because it was gross, or irreverent, or funny, or silly, or smart, or terribly clever,” he continued. “Dirty Jobs succeeded because it was authentic. It spoke directly and candidly to a big chunk of the country that non-fiction networks had been completely ignoring. In a very simple way, Dirty Jobs said ‘Hey — we can see you,’ to millions of regular people who had started to feel invisible. Ultimately, that’s why Dirty Jobs ran for eight seasons. And today, that’s also why Donald Trump is the President of the United States.”

You see, the silenced finally found a voice; they found someone willing to listen.  Celebrity elitists just don’t represent a majority of the electorates.  (Have any of them packed up and moved out yet?)

There are lots of angry people out there; some of them are still protesting.  And because they live in this country, they have that First Amendment right – the rights that allow us to march in the streets, to worship freely, and to share our thoughts through blogs like this one.

Speaking to supporters at a victory celebration, Trump said it best, “It’s time for America to bind the wounds of division.  I say it is time for us to come together as a united country.”

I agree. Let’s start working together.

Stand Up, America

It’s obvious that there’s a lot of turmoil going on in America right now. In the past few years, we’ve seen riots over race and officer-involved shootings, an extremely divisive presidential race, and a growing feeling that something’s just not right.

At Backyard Buddy, we’re proud to be a business that is keeping Ohio’s strong manufacturing tradition alive. We’re proud of our commitment to building our lifts and accessories using American-made raw materials assembled by American workers. But what we’re most proud of is what we all are: American.

One of the core, fundamental values of being an American is that we are all responsible to and for our country. We are all in this together. This is our country, and together with our fellow citizens, we will keep her strong and work to solve any problems that we run into along the way. This spirit has kept our country strong even through a Civil War that almost tore us permanently apart, and through all of the ups and downs over the past 240 years. Even though we are facing some tough issues right now, every one of us should be proud to be American, and committed to working together for our future, even if there are many different visions of that future.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way. This summer and fall, we’ve seen athletes from the NFL to high school teams, and even American Olympians taking a knee for the national anthem. While we respect everyone’s right to free speech, this is a deliberately disrespectful act and we cannot support those who do it. Our flag and our anthem are symbols of the rights and duties that each and every one of us has as an American, and disrespecting them is disrespecting all of us, especially the veterans who fought and died for everything these symbols stand for.

We understand that the people doing this may feel that they don’t have a voice, but they are wrong. Each of us has a voice. Our collective voice is heard every time we vote. Our individual voices are heard through a free press, and thanks to the internet, everyone can share their opinion with the rest of the country. If we want to commit to deeper change, any one of us can participate in local politics by attending and speaking at local government meetings, or even running for office. In most places, running for local elective office is far easier than people think, and often only requires that you be well-respected in the community.

One of the greatest things about being an American is that each and every one of us has the power to change our country, but none of us can do it alone. We can organize our neighbors to change a neighborhood. We can work with others to change an entire city. A select 44 of us have inspired their peers to be given the honor of helping change the entire country.

Instead of protesting the symbols of our country, those who want to change it the most should celebrate that they are given the opportunity to do just that. No matter how much you disagree with what may be happening, stand tall and proud that you are an American, and that you have the power to create the change you want to see.

Get Out and Vote

This year’s political scene is unprecedented.  No matter which side of the aisle you’re on, it’s been an ugly, heated and tumultuous battle of wits and words.  People are passionate about their candidate and are just as passionate about their disdain for the opponent.  I’ll refrain from expounding on my political views, but what I will do is implore you to get out and vote in November.

The United States of America may just be the world’s oldest continuous democracy; something we should never take for granted.  Voting is a privilege and a right that many Americans fought hard for and struggled to win.  There are people around the world whose voices are never heard; their opinions never known.  Thanks to our soldiers, our freedoms and the democracy we embrace are protected.

Stop and think about this; which would you rather contend with?  You arrive at your polling location, you’re running late for work, only to be met with a very long line and just two poll workers to handle the rush. Or, you live in Afghanistan (you’re already concerned about backlash for simply voting), the line at the polling booth is long, leaving more time for exposure to potential threats, outright danger, or terrorist violence just because you’re trying to cast a vote.  I think I’d rather be late to work.

You get the gist – voting is a privilege.  Honor that privilege.

We live in a free country, so our voices can be heard through the votes we cast.  This is an important way to show support for the issues that matter most to us by helping to elect the representatives who can best implement policies and effect the changes we want to see.

Consider voting a civic duty.  It is one of the most important rights and responsibilities that U.S. citizens have.  Not only it is everyone’s right to vote, it is also everyone’s duty to vote in order to ensure freedom of expression, equality, and well-being of this country we live in.

Be American. Vote.