*Warning: Another long ass post with very low resolution photos from the memory bank*
I grew up sheltered beyond measure, not seeing much beyond Wisconsin and half of Minnesota. I never encountered anyone darker than the Native American skin complexion until my first cousin once removed, Maxwell, was born. I was eight years old. So, growing up with very little diversity did two things. One, helped me accept all Americans regardless of color and background, and two, it still blinded me from the reality of our very own country, because of experiencing my very own discrimination in small town USA.
September 11th, 2001, I was fifteen years old. I did not know what the World Trade Center was until this very day. The day that would change America and the rest of the World forever. It was my loudest calling. As any small town White American, we grow up ignorant, but proud of our safe haven we call the United States of America, the land of the free. This is a moment I realized I needed to sincerely reach out to the rest of the world and educate myself.
It didn’t take long to talk myself into taking the military route, due to my spiritual beliefs beyond the illusion of freedom. September, 2001 brought to light in my life of a black and white factor, good verses evil. Yeah, I also wanted to see the world and get the hell out of dodge, but also fight the evil that displayed itself at the very beginning of our new millennium. I didn’t want to just prove to others of my ability of being somebody, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do anything I put my mind too regardless of everyone else’s doubts of my vision.
Before I headed to basic training after I graduated high school, I talked my mom and stepfather into helping me pay for a school trip to New York City my Senior year. I paid half and they paid half. I needed experience beyond the small radius I grew up in.
Luckily for me, they agreed. This was only three years shortly after the infamous date. I had to embrace ground zero, or what was left of it anyways. It was the reminder I needed on the reason I was serving. It pushed me to believe in the choice I already had made.
Now fast forward to my experience in the military. We served whichever was our commander-in-chief and we were NOT allowed to bring up our political beliefs, but instead focus on the mission right in front of us. Tunnel vision, so to speak. There are a plus side to it.
There was a plus side to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as well, regardless of how it was
flipped against those in the LGBT community in those days. We weren’t consumed of things out of our measures beyond what was right in front of us. I guess being a chameleon, so to speak, also has it’s advantages.
Unfortunately, I am well aware that not everyone has the same case as myself, but in reality with all the units I was assigned too and the individuals I met through the military, I never felt that no one gave a fuck about who I was sleeping with, men or women. The men I had relationships didn’t give a fuck about my previous ex-girlfriends.
Completely different from the environment I grew up with. I did felt ‘free’ regardless of the circumstances with the military. While, others were unlucky to have found themselves kicked out, at my time in the service, the most I got was a counseling statement for bringing up hardships with an ex while in Iraq (for those who don’t know what a counseling statement is, it’s basically just a slap in the hand for fucking up).
The military showed me a close knit crew outside a few episodes of soap operas and drama theater going on, but again, that’s everywhere in this world. There was maybe one instance where a douche-bag NCO was being racist towards our Puerto Rican brothers. He tried to write up a counseling statement for me sticking up for them.
Yes, I was very opinionated in the military and didn’t hold back if I witness something wrong and I didn’t give a shit about what rank that individual was. Ask any of my leaders of this factor of my persona (laughing). This dude was certainty on a power trip though. Still no regrets though. He wasn’t a leader in my eyes and that’s still my opinion today.
Other than that, I did not witness anything racism, especially towards my African American brothers and sisters I served with. Niave? Maybe. I was one of the few white soldiers always kicking it with my African-American battles though, when I wasn’t hanging with my Air Force guys.
Even at home, in my military environment, I didn’t witness any racism with my own eyes. Not saying there wasn’t, but I mean, I was going through my own issues to the point where it consumed my life, my small mind at the time. To the point where the civilian world, it was a complete stranger to me. I didn’t get what was going on due to my experiences in the military and my own discrimination growing up in small town, USA.
Even when the social issues were seriously rising, even under Obama’s presidency. I did not understand the issue. I wanted to, but I couldn’t help but question things like, “but we have Obama.” etc…etc… How is this going on? Why is this going on? I thought we got past this? Questions for days and days.
Like, I got completely uncomfortable and had lots of white guilt, because of how frustrated my friends were at me, and how mistreated they were with the system the country has in place. I will admitted, regardless of my life experiences, I was biased and uneducated as fuck to what truly mattered.
I wanted to understand, but my mind wouldn’t allow it due to my experiences in life. It didn’t take until a couple of my African-American friends actually literally dummy down the explanation for me, even with statistics. Somehow that helped shit click, which is weird, because I fucking hate math and suck at it with a passion (laughing).
Well now, it’s just beyond frustrated as fuck. I try to do my part to unify humanity and bring compassion in the world. Same as my original mission and purpose when I first signed up for the military, but it’s hard when over half of our humanity don’t give a rats ass about others than their own beliefs and themselves, especially Americans. Yes, I am calling my own country out. Look at the dynamic we are living in. We are not looked at as the best country in the world, we are a clown show for the world. Accept it.
This post also goes towards the ‘neo-liberals’ who want to categorize veterans as conservatives/Republicans/Trump-supporters, because of the trolls you see on social media that try to speak for us. This is why majority of Americans, not just veterans, hate political parties and association with the government, regardless of the choices we made in our lives. I don’t regret a moment of serving, regardless of my status of a soldier and the choices I made to retire the boots.
I am still proud to be from this country, this continent, regardless of our imperfections. I will not allow our history to define my patriotism as an American Viking. I will allow our history to endorse more compassion within to expose towards society to try to fix the now. We need to open up and realize, not all nations world-wide are not on our level of progression when it comes to laws and rights, but again we are far from perfect. It takes lots of years and change to see where we’ve been compared to where we have come. The only movement is forward.
One last bit, before I close this post. Believe it or not, plenty of us, veterans, are not brainwashed and can think and speak for ourselves. I still believe there are plenty aspects of this country that is far more beneficial than many nations on the world, regardless of the current shit show, but that’s another post for another time. Political rants exhaust me.
That goes for the current climate on both ends of the political parties. It’s time for a change, government. It’s time to give a shit about the people. It’s time for a change, people. It’s time to have less reliance on corrupt politicians who give no shits about anyone, but themselves. It’ll take a lot of work. It’ll be hard. Nothing is black and white, but nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.
For those who are too far ignorant to see reality and truth beyond the propaganda bullshit, and are stuck in your own alternative truth, I’ll pray for you.