Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Veterans’ Category

Ready or not – another year looms in front of us – which also means another year is behind us.

The question is – what will you do with this New Year – this 2015?

I am not a New Year’s resolution sort of gal. I have found that my resolutions – as great as they may sound – are too far-reaching – and in the end I am more disappointed with myself for falling short – once again – of the demands I have placed on myself.

There are no resolutions this year. No lose weight, no write a blog a day – no take a picture a day – none of that has even crossed my mind.

There are only the promises I have made to myself to be a better person. I can be kinder, I can be more loving, I can be more understanding, I can be less judgmental, I can be me.  A better version of me – but me.

I spent a portion of yesterday (New Year’s Eve) afternoon at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery.  There was a woman and her little daughter, both wrapped in blankets, sitting in lawn chairs beside the grave of a fallen solider. The grave was new – so this woman’s loss was new – our nation’s loss was new.

My heart ached for her loss – for her pain – for her suffering. It was in that moment that I realized I needed to live my best life, and it was in that moment that I made those promises to myself to be kinder, to be more loving, more understanding.

People are suffering every single day. They survive things I can only imagine. They beg for food – for money – for clothes. They live in boxes. People face Cancer, Alzheimer’s. They die in War…

I know I won’t be perfect every single day, I know I will make mistakes. Still – I’m going to be a better me.

How about you?

1-DSC_0280

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

 

1-DSC_0824

Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery – Pt. Loma, CA – Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day is the American Holiday observed on the last Monday of May, It honors the men and women who died while serving in war or while otherwise serving in the United States Military.

Originally called Decoration Day, it came into being in the years after the Civil War when Americans in cities and towns began holding springtime tributes to the fallen soldiers of the Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers, and also reciting prayers and poems to the fallen.

It became Memorial Day as we started to honor and decorate the graves of all of our fallen from all wars and conflicts.

Most cemeteries decorate the graves of our fallen with flags, and hold ceremonies reminding us all of the meaning of the words: sacrifice, honor, duty, Country.

No matter your plans for this Memorial Day weekend – please take a moment and remember why it is you have an extra day off work. Remember why it is you have the freedom to say what you please, write what you please, worship whomever you please, and cast your vote as you please.

I’ll be remembering and thanking my great grandfather, grandfather, father, uncles, cousins, friends who were in uniform during the Civil War, WW I, WW II, Korea, and Vietnam.

I’ll also be thinking of family and friends still living who need to be honored and respected for their service during Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan… War changes everyone – living or dead – and they all need to be honored.

If you can’t get to a cemetery to pay tribute you can honor the fallen in your own little part of the world. The US Government’s website tells us we can also “Pay tribute to the U.S. men and women who died during military service by observing a minute of silence at 3:00 PM, local time.”

To all members of our United States Armed Services, past and present – you have my heartfelt gratitude and thanks for your service.

Read Full Post »

I wonder if the people who go to Las Vegas know that the United States is facing an economical challenge. I also wonder if they know and understand that people are not supposed to have money to burn. I only ask this because I’ve seen a whole lot of people throwing money into machines and on tables and at scantily clad women while I’ve been in Las Vegas the past few days.

If I were not a person who read or watched television and only based my knowledge of the condition of the American economy on what I have seen the past two days; I would honestly assume that we were the richest nation on earth, we have no poor or homeless, everyone had jobs, everyone was secure, and everyone had hundreds and hundreds of dollars to just give away.

I sat with a group of older gentlemen this afternoon who were a-waitin for their “women-folk.” Yes, they actually did call them their “women-folk.” We were all in this amazing Parisian bakery inside the Paris Hotel and Casino.  I was eating this chocolate twist that made me want to do a little happy dance, as it was almost as wonderful as the one I had when we were really in Paris, France.  I was totally enjoying the decadence of it all without one ounce of guilt, when these gentlemen asked if they could use the extra chairs at my little table.

They were from Alabama, and they wanted to sit and wait for their “women-folk” who were shopping, would I mind if they just “sat a spell?”  How could I possibly refuse?

The liberal lesbian from California with three white men from Alabama with their “God Bless America” baseball hats, their fanny packs, and their “Bama” t-shirts.  What on earth could possibly go wrong?

Had I won any money they asked?  Yes, I had won a little right here in the Paris Casino.  What was I playing? The nickel Wheel of Fortune machine. Was I in Las Vegas on vacation? Yes, I suppose I was. Was I with my husband? No, I wasn’t married.  “A pretty little thing (which sounds like thang in that southern drawl) like you?”  “I just caint believe a man hasn’t laid claim to you.”

Now – at this particular point in time – I wondered if I really needed to make my gay-marriage, gay-rights stump speech.  Did I really need to attack these 3 old white southern men who were simply a-waitin for their women-folk? Would it make a difference? Would they even understand what I was a-sayin?

They didn’t give me any time to answer them as they started drinking their Parisian coffee and talking politics amongst themselves.  I started to eat my chocolate twist a little faster as I was sure the Republican rhetoric was going to force me from the table. I was thinking of what liberal comment I could make before leaving the table, and what gay image I could leave with them. I was preparing my little speech in my head when I heard one of them say: “I sure hope The President shows that Romney a thang or two in the debates. That poor white boy don’t stand a chance.”

I must have had this look of total shock on my face as these 3 men looked at me and apologized if they had offended me.  I told them that I was not offended on any level and I apologized to them for just assuming they were white, southern Baptist, racist, homophobic men from Alabama.  They roared with laughter and said that no they indeed were not, but their “women-folk” most certainly would fit that description!

I sat with these three men for another 45 minutes and we talked about more things than I could ever write on paper.  These men were sweet and funny and knew the ways of the world. They hated the south of the 1960’s and never agreed with the whole slavery thang. They aren’t fans of the Rebel flag, they don’t like re-hashing the Civil War, they believe in the freedom of and from religion and don’t believe it has any place in government. They think Paul Ryan looks like Eddie Munster and they called Mitt Romney: “Milk-Toast.” I’m not exactly sure, but I don’t think it was a positive thang.

They do not like Chick-Fil-A, they love, love, love college football and confirmed for me that football in the south truly is a religion. These men were WWII veterans, and their voices changed when they spoke of their service to this Country during WWII.  War has a way of defining the people who fight in it, and live to tell the tale. Their eyes filled with tears and they spoke softly of buddies who never came home and they told me that some 70 years later they have never really come to terms with the men they were told to kill. Indeed – war changes people.

I wanted to stay and meet the “women-folk” but I somehow knew that I would have absolutely nothing in common with these women, so I hugged each of these men, and went on my way.  I stopped at a bench, pulled out my journal, and wrote down everything I could remember from the past 45 minutes. It was like taking notes during a college lecture on history, religion, philosophy, sports, politics and human nature all in one course!

I will smile every time I watch an Alabama football game knowing that these three men are somewhere together cheering on their Crimson-Tide.  I will forever be grateful for their honesty, their kindness and the lessons learned in that Parisian Bakery in the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  The jackpot I hit with these three men was far better than any I could have hit from a slot machine.

Roll Tide!

Read Full Post »

There were 14 people in our little contingent sitting in our favorite spot along the Parade Route.  Three of us are gay; the other 11 are straight neighbors and friends who were with us showing love and support and total acceptance on every level one could ever hope for.  We arrived early to nab a parking spot and our favorite part of the sidewalk along 6th Avenue in the shade. We watched folks dressed in festive rainbow attire, couples walking hand in hand and laughter was in the air everywhere you went.

Almost every person you passed smiled and said “Happy Pride,” and Susan looked at me and said: “I love that everyone says Happy Pride, it’s like they’re saying Happy Birthday to us.”  I’d never thought of it in those terms, however, for a gay and lesbian your life really does start the day you “come out,” and what is more festive and celebratory than a big gay parade? So Happy Pride now seems even more appropriate!

Even before the troops rounded the corner of University Avenue and started down 6th Avenue the tears started to flow. I knew they were coming, I could hear the roar of the thousands of people who had lined the parade route.

 

And then – there they were passing by me these active duty Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard personnel walking proud in their uniforms.  But, these weren’t just any active duty military personnel, these were gay and lesbians in their finest uniforms walking down the parade route in front of thousands of people. Proud of their uniform, proud of their country feeling the love and pride of those of us who rose to our feet to clap and yell and whistle for them. It was a moment frozen in time for me.  I never imagined seeing it in my lifetime, and yet – there they were.

It was a moment for those of us who are homosexual to realize that the world really is changing, and for those who are heterosexual to understand how hard the battle has been and how ridiculous the prejudice against us has been.

I ran on to the street and hugged my friends who walk every year with the Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community float. They are loving, sweet, kind, wonderful friends who quietly live their faith striving for peace, love and equality for everyone.

There was a Mormon group walking this year for the first time ever.  They carried a banner which read: “Mormons for Marriage Equality, and held signs saying: “This Mormon loves you,” and “Sorry, we’re late.” They were cheered and accepted by everyone along the parade route

Was there loud booming music and men dancing in their underwear? Of course, what Pride Parade would be complete without that? There was even this foam throwing truck that covered men and women inside with foam – I have no idea what it represented, but it was fun and festive. If you go to a Pride Parade expecting to not see craziness, then you really shouldn’t go!

The 300ft gay flag at the end of the parade is always my moment to stand alone in the crowd of thousands and cry. It’s my moment to remember the first time I touched that flag and knew that my life had changed. It’s my moment to watch the people walk by me under and around this flag and watch as it comes to life going down 6th Avenue.  It floats up and down as people join in and help bring it to life. Just like my life as people come into it with love and acceptance and help bring me to life.

Happy Pride everyone!

Read Full Post »

So, this Sunday will be the second year without my father here to wish him a Happy Father’s Day.  It gets easier every year without him here; still there are times when I find myself picking up the phone to call him, or times when I just want to talk to him.  It’s on these occasions that I go to the wonder of voice mail, and I listen to his voice. Some days this gives me comfort, other days it just brings more pain.

When I was a little girl – there was no one quite like my daddy.  I was one of the lucky ones – I actually had a Daddy.  He worked the 11-7 shift when I was really young, so I got to play with him during the day. I was his “little one” and pretty much got whatever I wanted when it came to my Daddy!

I learned in my teenage years that Daddy wasn’t to be messed with when it came to following the rules. Mother was usually the one who made and enforced the laws of the house, but… when Daddy raised his voice I knew that life as I knew it was over.  I only remember him striking me once, and that was because I told my mother to shut-up, and that was not acceptable at any time, for any reason, no matter how old I was.

When we stood at the back of the church on my wedding day – he held my hand and looked me in the eye and said: “Are you sure you want to do this?” I was only 19, and I knew I was running as fast as I could from my knowing I was gay, but… it was 1972, I was living in a small, conservative town and telling anyone I was a lesbian was just not something that was done.  I wanted to say NO I don’t want to do this Daddy, and run from the church. But… I said something about Mother killing me if I left, the music started, and the rest is family history.   I understand now that he would have been just as proud had I said No, and he and I had left the church.

When I finally had the courage to come out I was 50, and my father embraced me without hesitation. I don’t believe he ever understood, but… it didn’t matter.   We never discussed it as our family doesn’t talk about anything, especially things that have to do with emotions or feelings – it just isn’t done. But, he never wavered in his support of me and he embraced my partner Susan as he would another daughter.

In the last few years of his life, and since his death, I’ve discovered that my father was not the man I knew him to be.  Some of his decisions from years ago still tear apart a family who is simply trying now to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  Pieces that fit into place show a man who acted foolishly, and put his personal interest above that of family, and we are left to wonder why and how a man who could be so kind and loving, could be so selfish. I struggle to understand.

What I’ve discovered is that my father was searching for something. I believe that the only time he ever really felt alive was on his Minesweeper “The USS Raven” sweeping the English Channel before the start of D-Day in June of 1944.  He knew that his actions on that day had made a difference; he had helped to shape the world, he had made a difference in millions of lives.

My father searched the rest of his life for that same feeling. He wanted to be loved, he wanted his life to matter, and he wanted to be something to someone.  I hope he knows now that he was all of those things – he was my father.

Rest in Peace, Daddy…   Happy Father’s Day

Read Full Post »

Did you know that Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor those who have died in service to the United States of America?  Did you also know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day? I hate to burst your 3-day weekend bubble, but, it’s not about heading to the beach, drinking beer, and throwing some meat on the grill.

I come from a military family.  My great-grandfather fought at Gettysburg, my grandfather in WWI, my father in WWII, my brother in Vietnam, my ex-husband in The Persian Gulf, my nephew in Iraq and Afghanistan.  My mother drilled it into my head and my heart that to serve one’s Country is the highest of honors, not just for the person, but for the family.

When I was little there was a parade down the main street of our little town.  My little tricycle had the red, white and blue streamers, and the veterans marched proudly and waved and smiled at the folks who lined the street. I may complain from time to time about the conservative politics of this little town, but when it came to their veterans; It was Americana at its best.

As I’ve gotten older, I also understand that Memorial Day isn’t just about honoring the dead; it’s also about honoring the living.  Their service changes their lives forever. Whether they see combat, is not the issue, it’s the service to their country that changes who they are, and it changes forever the family unit.

It’s the service of the Mother or Father left behind to comfort the children, pay the bills, and deal with the everyday life that can be simply overwhelming.  Not enough money, not enough love to go around, not enough community support, not enough government support…

In 2000 President Clinton signed the “National Day of Remembrance” resolution which asks all Americans at 3p.m. local time, “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.” Take a moment and honor them all.

Susan and I will be heading to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery to honor our fallen veterans, and then to the USS Midway to throw a flower in the water over the ashes of my father.

Memorial Day isn’t about how you feel about war. Memorial Day is to honor those who do the fighting and the dying, and those who “keep the home fires burning.” To those veterans and their families who may be reading this…  Thank You ♥

Read Full Post »