What's in a word?

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Veteran. It’s such a weird word, implying all sorts of common ground in terms of experience and patriotism. And yet we are as varied as our fingerprints. For my part, I have struggled with my identity as a veteran for many of my 56 years, a love-hate roller-coaster that continues to this very day.

My story

I am the son of a man who spent 23 years in the Navy. My father retired as a Chief Hospital Corpsman, having been stationed everywhere from DC to Norfolk to Long Beach to Camp Lejeune. He fought on the ground in Korea and was awarded the Purple Heart after having been shot in the leg. My brother still has the bullet.

Following him from base to base, I grew up in military housing. I even lived in Tarawa Terrace at Camp Lejeune. I learned to play sports in base gymnasiums. I learned to live alongside people of other races and nationalities starting at a very young age.

By the time I was a high school junior in 1967, the prospect of serving in the military was not all that appealing. Vietnam was ripping our country apart – and I wanted to go to college. No one in my family had ever done that, however, and the path wasn’t clear. We were poor and there was no way my parents could afford to send me even to a state school. Plus we were hard core Christians who didn’t believe in borrowing money.

That’s when I applied to the Naval Academy at Annapolis. I was thrilled to be accepted, and at the young age of 17, I just knew I would be a career Navy officer.

After graduation, however, I quickly found myself active in the anti-war movement. I hated Richard Nixon for the same reason I hate George Bush: they are both cowards who sent my friends to die in a war with no purpose. My work for McGovern, however, did not go unnoticed. Though I did excellent work in my jobs, I didn’t fit the mold politically. I had a guitar case with peace symbols on it in my stateroom on the USS Charleston.

As punishment for being a “liberal,” I was transferred to a unit called 2nd Anglico at Camp Lejeune, where I earned by gold wings for making more than 20 parachute jumps. I also became further radicalized as I joined forces with a growing number of junior officers who didn’t buy the domino theory of Communist takeover in Southeast Asia. I got out of the Navy five years to the day after I was commissioned.

For a long time, I never talked about my time in the military – but in doing so, I now realize I gave up a lot of my personal power. I didn’t take advantage of my knowledge and expertise, my training, and my years of experience.

When the Child King started rumblings about invading Iraq, I got highly agitated and began to resurrect my political activism. I soon discovered the blogosphere, and eventually embraced my identity as a veteran by naming myself Anglico.

To this day, I cannot understand the knee-jerk instincts by so many military people to support Republicans. And yet, I suspect that Bush is single-handedly doing what three decades of my political activism could never do. He is destroying the stranglehold of the Republican Party on veterans, active duty personnel, and their families. He is helping them understand that they are nothing more than props for the sick game he is playing.

I am a veteran. I am a Democrat. And I am pissed.

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Comments

Crossposted at Kos

At least you are doing something about it.

It is obvious so many of Americans are all too willing to sit back and let the big GW and his merry men in tights rule.

Good story, thanks for sharing.

citizen soldiers...

...becoming citizen activists.

what could be more patriotic?

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Nice post Anglico

and now we know where anglico comes from!

A: I haven't had time today to read all this

great stuff but I can't wait. This was a wonderful idea. Great job.
 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Glad to know your history A

Truely proud to be a member of this fine community too. This was a great day, I'm still reading and catching up. But wanted to let you know I have been in and out today and yesterday. Strange things going on in my life right now, just trying to deal.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

Thanks for the check-in mom.

Take care of yourself.

xxx

Momo, you're having strange things, too?

My world has gotten completely surreal . . . but enuff about us.

Anglico, when you get a chance in the future, if you feel so inclined, I want to hear more. I can imagine that you weren't too popular but I would love to know more details. For example, how it was made clear to you in Annapolis that you didn't fit in? I bet there's some juicy stories there. Also, how much fun was it to meet those junior officers at Lejeune who didn't agree with the domino theory. What was their take and did they have to hide it?

I lived in DC when the Viet Nam Memorial was built and I would often ride my bike to the mall, wander around, and listen to the guys who hung out there night after night. So many men in worn fatigues saying with fresh surprise, "It was all a lie." "It was all political, man." I was around 24 or so and it was obvious to me they had been really toyed with mentally and emotionally. I was so glad they had gathered with their friends to hash it out and have these discussions. But I was shocked at how naive they seemed considering they all had at least ten years on me.

My brother was Navy. My Dad a Marine pilot in WWII. The Philippines. I grew up near Aberdeen Proving Ground, where my Dad worked as a civilian. Neither of them would ever question anyone in authority. It was unheard of. When I started to doubt all the fear-mongering about communism I certainly never said one word about it to either of them.

That's why your experiences interest me! I, too, don't get why so many military men blindly vote Republican in the face of so much damning evidence.

Thank you again for sharing your story and for encouraging and planning this whole BlueNC veteran's day. This is awesome.
 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Thanks, DQ.

I think I've repressed most of my stories . . . but I'll see If I can drag a few back one of these days. The early 70s . . . not a good time to be a liberal junior officer.

wooo hooo, can't wait.

You know that with the perspective of time your experiences are going to seem hilarious. Sick but hilarious.
 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

I just want to thank you, Anglico

for putting together the BlueNC Veteran's Day, and encouraging so many of our members to share their stories. I know that there are more stories out there.

I haven't commented on any of them, because I don't feel I have anything meaningful to say to any of you except "Thanks".

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

I thank

you for reading our stories and accepting us for who we are.

Your Thanks means more to us then you realize.

Your very welcome.

Thanks for sharing this post A

I had no idea you ever lived in my bloved city of Jacksonville. Its a great city now.

You probably did the right thing however. They would have torn you to peices.

President Bush has indeed done more to help open the eyes of the military (Marine Corps and Navy) than any other individual could have done.

I am a retired US Marine. Now I know you may understand more of what I say than I thought.

Marshall Adame
2014 U.S. Congress Candidate NC-03

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