Saturday, November 11, 2017
November 11-12, 2017: Crowd-sourced Veterans Days
[In honors of Veterans Day, this week’s series has AmericanStudied veteran figures, histores, and stories. Leading up to this crowd-sourced post on all things veterans and Veterans Day—please share your own stories and connections in comments!]
On Twitter, Jennifer Dane writes, “This is one of my areas of interest, especially around oral histories of LGBT troops during DADT. I am one of those service members myself.” She adds, “A good, but tragic book is Coming Out Under Fire.”
My friend, Guest Poster, and state university colleague Roopika Risam highlights “a great new DH project from my colleague Andrew Darien,” on Salem State University student veterans.
On Facebook, Kelley Smolinski shares two perspectives. Her own: “Even with the influx of films shining light on the mental and emotional sacrifices made by veterans, there's a disconnect between people's response to those films and the way we observe Veterans Day. Every year, kids pile into the gym and zone out during Veterans Day assemblies and attendance at parades is limited. They deserve more than that.” And that of her fiancée, Zachary Ryan Davis, a veteran of the US army: “I'm very proud of my service and proud of those I served with. They deserve to be honored. I'm always disappointed by the turn out for Veterans Day festivities. And you can't even say it's because we don't like parades. Look at anytime a sport team wins. It's a very powerful statement on where we place our importance. It's a powerful statement on who we consider heroes.”
Finally, an anonymous reader shares, “I want to share this story, because he never would. My step-dad, ‘Pop,’ was in the Marines in the 80s, and was sent all over the world as a paratrooper and sharpshooter. In the early 80s, he was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. It has only recently been found that the water at Camp Lejeune was filled with contaminants at that time, including trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, vinyl chloride, benzene, and other compounds. And only recently have links been found between the contaminated water and eight diseases, including Parkinson’s Disease. He was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s when I was in high school, but it was unknown that it was linked to Camp Lejeune until a few years ago. It was only last year that the Department of Veteran Affairs confirmed his case of Parkinson’s stems from his time in North Carolina and they have just assumed responsibility. Ever since he was diagnosed, he has never once complained. Even after learning he had the disease because of where he was stationed, he has never once placed blame, gotten angry, or felt regret. He does not like to discuss his illness, as he does not want sympathy from anyone. Despite the hardships he faces every day, he is still proud of serving his country and would not take back the time he spent as a Marine, even with knowing that it is the reason he has Parkinson’s. Personally, that is unfathomable to me. His every day life is a sacrifice. It has been a struggle for our family, but what helps is his positive attitude. This is why Veteran’s Day is special to me. Though he does not want the outward recognition (because to him, he merely feels he was doing his duty to his country), I still honor him on that day. He is the most respectable man I have ever met and I am so lucky to have had him as a ‘2nd dad’ ever since he married my mom when I was 6 or 7. I have never met someone who has such strength to make it through every day with a smile.
One thing I’d like to add is how I wish people stopped judging or assuming things about each other. Pop has a hard time walking, and at my youngest brother’s soccer banquet a few years ago, he was called up to the podium and he stumbled on his way. There was one parent who said under his breath, ‘It’s disgusting that he’s drunk at a high school soccer banquet…’ Now, he can’t even drink due to his medication. Also, last summer, he and my mom were at the beach on Cape Cod and were walking up to the car. He was walking a little ahead of my mom, staggering and stumbling, and a man on a bicycle came up behind my mom, looked at her, pointed at my step-dad, and said, ‘Wow, guess all the weirdos are out today… stay away from that one.’ My mom was the bigger person on both of these occasions and said nothing, though her emotions were out of control. She said nothing, because he would never have wanted her to. He does not want sympathy. He does not want recognition. He knows he served his country and that’s all that matters to him. To me, it’s frustrating to know that people jump to such horrible conclusions. He is a veteran. He served our country. Personally, I wish the two men who made these comments knew the truth. Maybe they would think twice before judging the next person. Maybe they would learn to respect others more. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just still angry about these two incidents. Regardless, Pop proves to be stronger and stronger every day, even as the disease makes him weaker.”
Next series starts Monday,
PS. What do you think, or what would you add?