Thursday, June 10
by Sue on Thu 10 Jun 2010 10:36 PM EDT
from hrc comes a humbling story ....
The Yuma Mayor doesn't think limp wristed men don't belong in the military. The first casualty of the Iraq War speaks out ...
If you even consider going to Arizona, you are not invited to my summer soirees.
Monday, May 31
by Sue on Mon 31 May 2010 03:18 PM EDT
Like many veterans, my grandfather remained intensely private about his military experiences. My childhood memories are limited to stories handed down from my father and the only fear I ever saw in John's eyes -- when the fireworks exploded on the 4th of July. He would try, but always failed to remain outside. Even as a pool drenched six year old shivering under a beach towel, my excitement about the festivities was dampened by that look and his eventual retreat inside.
John grew up to work in the steel mill. It was his destiny as surely as the four generations of mill workers who had come before, to continue the legacy of the Industrial Revolution. He went into the mills in 1932 after graduating high school and started a family.
Then, in 1942, he was drafted into the US Army Air Force 305th Signal Division Company. (I may have the wording wrong b/c of conflicting documents.) He did his basic training and eventually ended up in the Philippines and then ... well I'll get to that. He was a radio man, a fascination that stayed with him throughout his life. Always a transistor radio at his side.
The few things I know either from family lore or his discharge papers.
- He survived a tsunami in the Philippines. It just reminded me that he went to the beach every year, but never swam. Hmmm. His records don't list this stop along the way, but my father assures me he somehow ended up there.
- He was sent to Puerto Rico and then Okinawa. Yes. I know what that means.
- He was on Ie Shima when the Japanese formally surrendered. We have some photos (I can't post them b/c they are somewhat racist) of the surrender.
I also have letters, dozens of letters he wrote to my grandmother from 1942, throughout his years overseas and ending with his last six months of service when we was stationed in New York. Her letters are lost to history, but I think she saved every scrap. Cards, notices about financial matters, post cards, military camp PR materials and memorabilia from her trip to visit him in San Francisco.
In the letters, he makes very little reference to anything military related except for mundane things like laundry, food and the boredom he experienced. A few times, he apologized for interruptions due to "being in the field" or away from paper and pen. The overwhelming emotion in the letters is loneliness. While stateside, he describes going out with friends and the occasional homecooked meal from a friend's wife. Once he left the US, it was all about a craving to recreate the every day lives of his family through written word.
This is what remains of his military service.
Once he was home, that was it. Obviously, he shared some with my father and I believe his brother, our Uncle Jimmy, had some stories to tell as well. Jimmy was in Africa and Europe flying airplanes. That's an entirely different story.
I really don't know much about the military history prior to the WW II generations. My great-grandfathers and great-great uncles signed up for the draft for WW I, but I've no evidence they were ever called up. One great-great uncle disappeared, so I assume the worst. My aunt's husband was in the Navy. HIS uncle was a fighter pilot for Kaiser Wilhelm II and left Germany before WW II, eventually settling in Canada. My great-uncle worked on the Manhattan Project (allegedly). My uncles both served in Korea, but also never speak of it. My father went to sign up for the draft for Vietnam, spoke fluent French and was turned down for medical reasons (Thank God). Since then, no one in our family has enlisted, at least in my immediate family. We do have a slew of engineers who work on all sorts of projects they can't discuss, but who knows why?
I'll never know the experiences my grandfather had. I'll never know what it was like for him to live with the memories, good and bad. I'll never know what he would think of desegregation, women enlisting and things like DADT. None of that really matters. He did what he was asked to do. Then he came home and did what he needed to do. The every day story of men all over the world whom we remember, along with their fallen comrades, on this day.
John and his sister Diddy on Decoration Day 1942 (now known as Memorial Day)
History is filled with accounts of heroic actions, daring escapades and sacrifices. It is important that we remember the everyday women and men whose quiet sacrifices are oft overlooked.
The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected- Sun Tzu, the Art of War
Saturday, May 29
by Sue on Sat 29 May 2010 08:11 AM EDT
Always interesting to see which NYT pieces that PG picks up ...
Today they chose to look at the practical implementation of openly LGBTQ soldiers, especially morale. Opinions vary from shrugs (since its already happening) to concern about backlash and harassment to the ever-present rhetoric about destroying anti-gay, homophobic rights to hold those opinions (aka losing their religion.
Why Keith? Why does it threaten you so to deal with reality?
Friday, May 28
by Sue on Fri 28 May 2010 07:42 PM EDT
From Pam's House Blend.
Hmmm. I've seen many local Pgh folks celebrating the *repeal* of DADT with no indication that they grasp exactly what the amendment language means. Others celebrate the small step of progress. No real local backlash thus far, at least not online.
Some of these dynamics play out with regard to the LGBT advocacy in Western PA. I think people are pretty comfortable acknowledging there are backroom politics at play; they just want to cultivate a sense of loyalty among those who don't have access and take some personal offense when they aren't believed about what happens behind those closed doors. I also think we have a lot of folks who "opt out" and that doesn't help.
This indicates that part of the system that is broken is the LGBT advocacy system itself. There's a lot of power concentrated in a few hands with little opportunity for participation or dissent. Long gone are the days when someone took the (open) mike at Pridefest to challenge the status quo or the powers that be.
Still, there is something to be said for engaging people in terms of outreach to their elected officials, so I'm sort of straddling the idea that people need to engage within the system AND create more transparency to connect with people who are disengaged. How that gels given an emerging LGBT political power base that mimics the old-school SW Pennsylvania Jurassic political system ... anybody's guess.
Getting back to DADT, this is progress, but progress that we need to keep in perspective. John Aravois from AMERICAblog has this to say.
by Sue on Fri 28 May 2010 08:39 AM EDT
Bear in mind that this vote does not repeal the ban on openly LGBT men and women serving in the military. The policy is still in effect. It does start the ball rolling, but it could realistically be several years until the ban is lifted. It could also remain in place. So proceed with caution.
Good call on the part of Steel City Stonewall Democrats to keep Critz off the slate. He voted no on the repeal.
Well, he did make it pretty clear he was not a liberal.
More later on how the gay community is sorting itself out in response to this "progress." This is a pivotal moment, but we may disagree on why.
Thursday, May 27
by Sue on Thu 27 May 2010 08:33 PM EDT
Preliminary information ...
Steel City's board has officially endorsed Sestak, Conklin and Onorato in the General Election. Good discussion. I'm sure the official slate will be up soon on the steel city website. You can pick up copies at the booth during PrideFest.
The slate will contain some informaton on why voting Democratic ticket is so important.
Meanwhile on the national scene, debate rages over the timidity of the DADT action. Some, mainly the insider A-list gays, seem absolutely convinced this is significant. Meanwhile, the more grassroots/actvist leaders are furious about the timidity. Make no mistake, this is not a repeal. The language is much more nuanced. Pay attention and form your own conclusions.
Monday, May 24
by Sue on Mon 24 May 2010 07:42 PM EDT
It has been a big day for the repeal of DADT. Specifically, there is word that Congress (both chambers) will consider amendments of the Defense Reauthorizaton Act, amendments that will repeal the DADT policy. h/t Towleroad
Of interest to those of us in Pennsylvania is leadership from Congressman Patrick Murphy, a strong proponent of the repeal. From MetroWeekly comes a copy of a letter to President Obama by Murphy and Senators Levin and Lieberman asking for "official views" on the repeal of DADT.
The HRC weighs in ...
Not everyone is a fan of this brokered compromise. Pam Spaulding weighs in.
It is funny that two different folks told me today that I need to basically say "it's an order" more often. Hmmm.
The vote to repeal, but lack of timeframe seems rather artificial. I just don't see why we have to coddle homophobes in the military. If people don't want to serve with openly gay soldiers (or African-Americans or women or people of the Muslim faith), DON'T SERVE. Do something else to give back to your country. Don't hold back the brave men and women who are willing to serve -- sacrifice their lives -- us.
Still, at this juncture, we need to continue putting pressure on our legislators to support the amendment. Have you called, yet?
Oh, here's a piece from KOS from the "this is bullshit" perspective.
Sunday, May 23
by Sue on Sun 23 May 2010 05:46 PM EDT
A post over at Daily Kos on the potental impassability of the DADT repeal and the consequences of such.
The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld has a piece up on the non-impact of the White House LGBT liaison, Brian Bond.
That very disconnect is an ongoing source of frustration for those of us who are very much not on the A-list.
Failure to repeal DADT (or pass ENDA) is a sad reflection that the A-list is not the same as A-game.
by Sue on Sun 23 May 2010 12:29 PM EDT
Groan. Colonel Richard Young of Texas, formerly of Ellwood Cty has a letter to the editor in the Trib. He argues against the repeal of DADT because it will impinge on military chaplains.
Pitting "religious liberty" against LGBTQ equality always frustrates me. There are no freedoms to be lost for homophobic military chaplains if gay soldiers live openly. Colonel Young disagrees:
Not true, Colonel. The repeal of DADT won't have any impact on your ability to counsel soldiers. Your argument would carry more weight if you could provide evidence that desegragating the military had an adverse impact on chaplains who found that decision offensive. Other than personal angst ...
Gay activists don't care if you perform same sex marriages. Seriously. The obey God, not man piece is quite a nugget -- this is the military, for God's sake. It is all about obeying men (and some women).
Stll, Colonel Young took the time to write and submit his point of view in socially conservative SW Pennsylvania. Are we effectively exercising our First Amendment freedom to do the same?