Category Archives: military service

Don't Keep "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

I remember that during the very early days of the Clinton Administration, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was announced. This allowed gays to serve in the military as long as they hid the fact that they were gay. Immediately, I thought this was one of the most stupid things I had ever heard.

The military wants people, presumably of integrity and character, to defend the country, but they wanted some of these people to essentially lie – TO THEM, no less – about who they are? At least the outright ban on gays in the military was honest; wrongheaded, but honest.

It recently came to me what I think is an apt analogy. It is like Negroes – I use the word specifically for the historic context – who could and did pass as white. They got all the benefits of the society that being white meant. At the same time, they always worried, “What if the secret gets out?” They had to make sure to stay away from those darker-skinned cousins who might ruin the ruse, for they feared the consequences of being revealed. It was not just because of their race but because they knew that deceivers receive even harsher punishment.

Likewise, gays in the military who make sure they change the pronouns of their loved ones back home are worried out being found out lest they be forced from their chosen profession. And I can imagine that colleagues being lied to about who their comrades-in-arms are might find that problematic as well.

I heard Tim Kaine, chair of the Democratic National Committee, on one of the talk shows last weekend saying that the Obama administration will be addressing this issue in a positive manner after consulting with the military. I certainly hope this is the case, and soon.

There is a great cartoon here that brings it home on this Memorial Day weekend.


Overheard cellphones

All of these events happened in January 2009.

I’m riding the bus when I hear this person behind me, evidently on a cellphone, start a conversation with “Yo, b***””. Now, I’m not one to judge how others treat their friends, but that was, in a public setting, distracting. More disturbing, though, was this person’s apparent vendetta against some 3rd party. Apparently, the person on the other line said something conciliatory re: said 3rd party, but my caller said, “When I hate someone, I really HATE ’em!”

Then the 2nd party mentions the 3rd party’s mother. 1st party: “Oh, someone should just SHOOT HER!” I discovered that the 1st party, who turned out to be male (but with a higher-pitched voice, which threw me on my identification) was 1) from out of town and 2) going to go to the military recruiting station. I realized that if this person did not notice the building, I wouldn’t tell him. Alas, he did find it.

You should understand that, as a librarian and as a Christian, I always try to help someone when I can. I was walking by another person who was standing in the 200 block of Washington Avenue, but told someone on her cellphone (a friend or a cab) that she was on the 200 block of Central Avenue. It was an easy mistake; this particular block is across the street from the FIRST block of Central Avenue. So I interrupted the caller and corrected her; she was very appreciative.

The would-be recruit, though, I would have let ride past his stop until he was miles away. I realized that this person, so filled with hate, and proud of it, I didn’t really want in the U.S. military. I was surprised that I could develop such an antipathy for someone whose face I never saw until he deboarded the bus. I wonder how good the psychological testing is for those entering military service?

Oh, and speaking of cellphones: I was crossing the street and this woman, I thought, was calling to me. No, she was on one of those hands-free devices, and when I turned around, she looked at me as though I were crazy. I have long thought that if EVERYONE had one of those instruments, we could all going around talking, with no one would know if we were talking to others or just to ourselves, and no one would know who really WAS crazy. ROG

Here Now the News

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 08 Election

Al Jaffee’s fold-ins for Mad magazine, from the 1960s to the present, in interactive form, from the Noo Yawk Times.

China Celebrates Status As Number One Polluter

Pat Paulsen for President. “Resurrect and Elect!” “Think Inside the Box.”

‘Gays Too Precious To Risk In Combat’

We Are The World redux.

More news here.

And, of course, the big news story of last year: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash
Breaking News: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash

Don’t know if any of this is ha-ha funny, but it’s certainly peculiar/funny. Rather like the date itself.


What Did You Do In the War, Daddy?

My father entered military service on May 1945, just after V-E Day. It was still the period of segregated units. He didn’t talk much (or at all) about his time in the army. What little I know were stories my father told my mother, and my mother told us, of course, long after the fact and second hand.

One of these piecemeal tales involved the fact that my father was temporarily raised to corporal (or sergeant) for a particular task, because the army wanted someone of that level to do the task. Then, when the task was complete, he was busted back down to private (or corporal), something I gather he was none too happy about. (Allegedly, lowering his rank was done to save money for the government.) If this sounds vague to you, trust me that this is all I’ve got.

A year or so ago, my sister Marcia had contacted the VA and was advised that the records that would have included my father’s records were destroyed in a fire in 1973. We found it strange that he only served 1 1/2 years, rather than 2-4 years, being honorably discharged in December 1946.

The one other aspect of the story is that there was a copy of an article from Ebony magazine from 1945 or 1946 that described “Negro servicemen” fraternizing with the local (white) women in Germany (I think), much to the chagrin of some, that was discovered in my father’s papers (and temporarily misplaced by me. Subsequently, there was a Newsweek article that reported on the Ebony piece.) I have no idea if this had anything to do with my father – it could have been about a friend of his – but straw grasping is what I’ve got.

So, blogiverse, on this Memorial Day, I’m hoping that somebody out there knows something about the military career of one Leslie Harold Green (b. 9/26/1926) from Binghamton, NY. If so, please e-mail me, if you would. Thank you.