I took an Election Day break from our coverage of ISIS here in Iraq to chat by phone with my 103-year-old father, Ed Palkot. He told me he had just come back from casting his ballot near his home in Garden City, New York.
For the record, and I confirmed this with Dad, this is the 21st consecutive presidential election he has participated in. Starting with the 1936 vote when he was 23 (you had to be 21 in those days to vote), he has not missed a White House beat.
At a time when nearly one voting age person out of two skips going to the polls, it is a remarkable achievement. From long experience, Election Day was a highly regarded event in the Palkot household.
Over the years, Dad has trended Republican. The Kennedys were never too popular in our house. He does recall, though pulling the lever for a Democrat. “I think I voted for Roosevelt once,” he acknowledged.
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And back in 1928, when he was 15, too young to vote, he campaigned for Democratic candidate Al Smith.
“He was great,” he remembers, “but not too well liked in Pittsburgh (Dad’s hometown), as he was a Catholic.”
An independent thinker, Dad’s gone at least once with a third-party candidate. “I don’t think I voted for Roosevelt or Landon in ’36,” he confided to me.
As for this campaign year, I think its fair to say that Dad’s been dismayed by the level of discourse on both sides of the aisle. He has underscored that to me in numerous conversations in recent months about the state of the race.
In a home where William F. Buckley’s TV show “Firing Line” and PBS’ “Washington Week in Review” were required and respected viewing, proper political discourse is still held in high regard.
Dad reported the turnout today was strong when he voted at the school a short distance from his house. He also told me he was attending the funeral of a well-liked 104-year-old lady in Garden City, tomorrow.
“I’m not sure,” Dad said, “but that could make me the oldest person in town. If not the oldest, one of the oldest.”
I think its safe to say, he’s one of the most politically engaged centenarians anywhere. And a role model for the rest of us, at any age.
Greg Palkot currently serves as a London-based senior foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1998 as a correspondent. Follow him on Twitter@GregPalkot.