On the very worth-listening-to Ep 004 of Mass for Shut-ins I had the distinct pleasure of talking with SSgt. Katie Schmid, US Army, who is one of the plaintiffs challenging the transgender military ban in court. My usual Memorial Day post is to pick an individual at random from the list of people killed in action in the previous year, but that conversation has me thinking differently this year.

Throughout American history the military has been our default social safety net, a strings-attached government promise of food, clothing, and housing in exchange for service ranging from the mundane in peacetime to risking one's life in war or dangerous non-combat duty. As such, the military unwittingly found itself in the position of being a melting pot and a cross-section of American diversity despite its numerous institutional attempts to resist it. As far back as the Revolutionary War it found itself having to integrate immigrants, African-Americans, non-English speakers, people of different religions, LGBTQ people, and people who otherwise were defined as being outside of the mainstream at their moment in history.

Usually the reaction, led by civilians in Congress and the White House, was to attempt to enforce uniformity and to beat (literally and figuratively) the differences out of people. When that was impossible, rigid artificial barriers were erected to keep people in separate containers. So, this Memorial Day let's remember everyone who was told that they were somehow inferior despite presenting themselves, by choice or by obligation, for service. Let's remember the Port Chicago Fifty, the people who challenged illegal orders, everyone turned away by a recruiter because of gender or race, and the nameless thousands of people who had to serve with "a secret" or while hiding, burying, and lying about some part of themselves.

Glory, duty, and obligation are the most obvious parts of serving. Some people do all that while fighting other, more personal battles as well.

8 thoughts on “REMEMBER”

  • c u n d gulag says:

    President Truman, by integrating our military, helped advance the fight for Civil Rights, and hasten its arrival.
    "If a young black kid is good enough to die next to a white kid on some hill in Korea, then why isn't he good enough to live next to a white kid in Hillsborough, NC?"

    The military needs bodies.
    They don't care about race, religion, gender, etc…
    The military just needs bodies.

    And after a war, those who are considered "different" shouldn't be told they can't do something after all sorts of people died to keep our asses safe, here in America.

  • I wind up in my local VA clinic or at the VAMC in Syracuse, on average once a month.

    There are men, women, gays, straights (and people who are elsewhere on the spectrum of human sexuality) pink, sallow, brown and an astonishing variety of shades of those three skin tones. Every variety of race and religion (well, christian for sure, maybe jewish–muslims are not "out" there) and lots and LOTS of teabaggers and Trumpliguturds.

    It never ceases to amaze me (in the sense of confuse the fuck out of me) how so many people who are in that social safety net which you so speak of are enthusiastically supporting the narcissistic M-in-C* and his criminal coterie, as well as the congrifterz who are gleefully lopping off budgetary support for the very veterans they use as convenient props for their faqtriotic pep rallies and stand-ins for their own lack (in most cases) of having done military service–particularly at the point of the spear.

    It is particularly galling for me to have to walk past 16 x 20 or larger prints of the current asshole resident of the WOH–a traitor, imo, scowling down at every passer-by in his petulant condemnation of the very things we served to preserve.

    * Malignancy-in-Chief

  • HoosierPoli says:


    Fox News and Hate Radio are the reason those people still support Trump and endorse the slitting of their own economic throats. They simply believe they live in an alternate universe and behave accordingly.

    There is NOT political accommodation possible with that portion of the country, now slightly less than half, that leaves the institutions of the right wing media intact. They simply have to be destroyed. I have no idea how, though.

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