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This Is How One Veteran Feels Today

   The results of this week have pushed me into a very dark place.  The outcome that I would not allow myself to think about before the election happened.  My country elected a man to assume the highest office in our nation that is the antithesis of everyone and everything I’ve come to know as good in this country and in this world.  Today is Veteran’s Day and this veteran wants nothing more than to hold onto his bravery, strength, courage, wisdom, his faith, his love.  But I'm finding it difficult.  

    This Tuesday was the second most horrific Tuesday of my life.  The first horrific Tuesday was experiencing 9-11 in our Nation’s capital.  On Wednesday, 11-9, at almost 4 AM in the morning I learned the results of the election.  People in this land of the brave, home of the free validated Tuesday—sexism, racism, bigotry, religious fundamentalism and fanaticism. Hatred was validated; a superior sex, a superior race, a superior religion in these United States of America in 2016.   

    I shutter to my core with each dooming thought I try to shake.  As much as try to shake thoughts of the unknown, this only awakens other thoughts and they spin into frenzied swirl in my head. The never-ending dialogue becomes louder.  Some of the memories play over and over coming in and out as flashing light. My head physically aches.

     I feel the lead pipe crash against my skull.  I take off running.  They are chasing me.  They are chasing me because I’m white.  I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time; because I’m a US Sailor and because I’m gay but I dare not speak of that.  I can hear the crack of my bones in my hand as I brace myself from the frontal blow to my head.  I’m running again.  “Let’s get em,” I hear them chant.  The end of the lead pipe catches the skin on my back as it rips into my clothes.  Cars are passing by and don’t stop. Why won’t they stop?  Nobody is helping because I deserve what is coming to me.  I’m still running; they’re still chasing me.  A car is coming fast, it doesn’t want to stop, it swerves to avoid getting involved.  It sees me in the road.  Please stop!  I’m going to die.  I run and jump in front of the car landing on its white hood.  I’m asleep.

    This is how one veteran feels today.

    I was about twelve, maybe thirteen when my aunt pulled me aside in my grandmother’s kitchen, as I was about to head outside to join my cousins.  She told me the Lord was speaking to her.  I quickly looked around the kitchen and found it empty; I don’t remember where everyone went.  I think my grandma had just run up to the grocery store.  I don’t recall.  But I remember she led  me into my grandparent’s basement.  She was the only adult with me.  Downstairs, she pulled me into one of three dark, quiet rooms.  She slid the door shut behind her.  I felt very uneasy.  She placed her hand on my shoulder and began to explain.  Saying again, Jesus was speaking to her.  I didn’t see anybody in the room.  It was just she and I.  I didn’t understand what she was doing or why.  I was confused and I was afraid she knew the truth.  Afraid she knew the truth of who I was, what I was.  She said she was told I had the gift and she was being lead to help me receive the gift of speaking in tongues.  I felt relief but relief quickly turned to further confusion and fear.  What did this mean?  I want my mother?  Where was my grandma?  Where was my aunt Carol?  I didn’t want this.  

    She moved her hand from my shoulder to the top of my head and began praying aloud.  “Sweet Jesus.  Praise Jesus.”  She encouraged me to join her in praising his name.  I was sweating.  I felt nauseous.  I felt trapped.  Frozen.  “Praise Jesus!” she exclaimed.  “Let the Holy Spirit flow through you,” she said.  I was extremely warm.  Hot, actually.  Hot because I was extremely uncomfortable, embarrassed, confused, fearful.  I just wanted to run out of that room and up those stairs and out of that house and down Brooks Road and run and find my mom.  But I couldn’t, I had yet to meet courage, know strength, to know wisdom.  To accept faith.  I didn’t because I was a child.  A child.  

    She urged me again, this time more vehemently.  I began to open my mouth, to pray what she was praying.   “Praise Jesus,” I managed to mumble.  I mumbled.  “Alleluia,” she exclaimed.  Then she ran to tell a story.  First she told my grandma, then my mother.  My mother told her twin.  My father.  It spread through the family, from family member to family member.  This lie, this manipulated story.  Nobody questioned her.  Not her mother, nor my mother.  Nor father.  Nor godmother.  They questioned me, a child.  I felt so empty.  Twisted.  Violated.  

    This is how one veteran feels today.

    I find myself crashing back to the madness.  Some of my own family members, neighbors, some friends, they’ve hurled vile things about our country, about our nation’s current President; some have even called him a devil.  When, in my right mind, he and his family are the most exemplary first family I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness and to serve.  

    Wake up America!  They’d post, they’d shout. They say we have to bring God back to our country, to our government, to our classrooms.  But the God they see is not the God I know. The country they see is not the country I know.  

    Today this veteran feels like that young sailor out on that road, alone running to save his life from all the hate in the world chasing him. Today this veteran feels like that twelve-year-old child being manipulated and abused by religious fundamentalism and fanaticism in this country.  Today this veteran prays he awakes tomorrow finding a new day, once again finding his bravery, strength, courage, wisdom, his faith, his love.  It’s just too raw right now.


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