Today is Veterans Day in the United States of America. We celebrate Veterans Day to honor the veterans who sacrificed so much to make sure that our freedom is preserved and that we, in this country can go on having a high standard of living, discover new things with high level science and technology, and have a booming economy.
I met Jerry at The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall. At the time of this interview, it was located in Palmdale, California, USA. We were lucky to have the memorial here, in Antelope Valley, just this time of year. Many people came to honor the names that were on the Vietnam Memorial on this day. We were equally lucky to have Jerry serve as a host to help both veteran families and non-veteran families get their questions answered regarding the wall and regarding the travelling project.
Jerry had a short career with the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Vietnam era, at a very young age, and was honorably discharged due to a medical condition. His mother made him promise that she would sign for him if he made only one tour, and he listened to his mother. He told somebody once, “You know, I was more afraid of my mother than I was of the whole Marine Corps.”
Jerry told me that, “I really enjoyed being in the Marines I really loved it, and it and when I came back, I went to college.”
Jerry also wanted me to understand, clearly, and emphatically, that, “There is no such thing as a former Marine. A marine is a marine is a marine. I am a United States Marine Corps Veteran.”
Jerry grew up in Oklahoma and Texas and worked for several oil companies. Jerry started working on the oil rigs, drilling, when he was thirteen years old, “In those days, everyone worked on the oil rigs, and you could always find work on the weekends when you were a kid.”
After returning from his tour in Vietnam, Jerry studied speech and psychology in college and then worked in oil companies’ offices performing accounting and contract duties. Jerry was well-rounded in the business: from the hands-on industrial work to the managerial office work. He had good working knowledge of how to drill oil wells as well as administrative responsibilities.
Jerry had two outstanding children and he had a lovely wife, “who put up with me and that’s what counts. And I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.”
Jerry volunteered for a hospice and took care of all the terminal veterans. One of the activities Jerry undertook was to retrieve copies of the terminal veterans’ discharge papers, without them knowing it, then create a framed certificate that thanked them for their service. Next, he arranged for local active-duty recruiters to wear their class-A uniforms and present the certificates.
At the location of the memorial, I saw the American flag below, and Jerry was kind enough to take a picture in front of it. When I showed it to him, he said that it reminded him of the poster from the 1970 movie Patton, staring George C. Scott.
Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin ©2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.
Robert wanted to be a member of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) or play college football. He was a senior in high school and considered himself very athletic.
Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.
This is Dustin, originally from Gainesville FL, USA, but at the time of this posting, homeless, in a mini-tent city, on Selma Ave, in Hollywood, CA, USA, two blocks from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Dustin had his dog, Tubs, with him, see photo below. Homeless people who kept their dogs were heroes because so many gave their dogs up to a”shelter” when life proved to be difficult. “Shelters” murdered dogs when they were there too long.
Tubs was a seizure alert animal. Dustin had her for two years and four months. Dustin commented on her training, “She was basically born to it. There’s nothing that I have to teach her. She’s a natural at it.”
When Dustin was about to have a seizure, Tubs whined, cried and climbed on his lap. Dustin interpreted this behavior as Tubs telling him to sit down before he would fall. Dustin loved her and fed Tubs before he fed himself.
Dustin was homeless on and off since he was thirteen years old. When he was able to work, he worked as a construction worker or a cook. He was in the Marine Corps, from 1999-2007, as a forward Observer, doing surveillance, and target acquisition. He was physically disabled: had a blown his knees and shoulders, had fractured ribs, slipped disks, and had seizures.
He received nothing from the VA (for those of you who don’t know, the VA stood for The US Department of Veterans Affairs that provided patient care and federal benefits to US military veterans and their dependents.) He received no assistance because he “got fired for doing the wrong right thing.”
Dustin does not get benefits because he interrupted a full colonel, in a flight suit, on the flight deck of a carrier, attempting to rape a female. After Dustin intervened, the Colonel acquired numerous broken bones. Thus, Dustin was dishonorably discharged. The offender was retired. The female received the billeting of her choice.
The day I met Dustin, I calculated I would post this portrait up on Inauguration Day. So I’m going to get a bit political.
To my fellow Americans who hate Trump, who are afraid of Trump, who mislabel people who voted for Trump as “Trump supporters” when we just knew, inconclusively, that Hillary Clinton did not qualify for public office, I want you to know, we are as afraid as you.
All of us were put through the ringer for the past eight years, “the reign of terror.” Due to your unpredictable, immature reactions, we had to shut up and pretend everything was fine as the world destabilized around us. If you think this is inaccurate, don’t just criticize or argue with me. I can go to Facebook for that. Please, research first; but not on main-stream media. Please, go on Twitter, or on any platform where you can reach out to random, individual people from Africa, from Europe, from the mid-East, and yes, from Russia and find out what they think of Obama/Hillary and the past eight years.
When an American votes for President, it’s not like voting for local office. One should not be selfish, thinking only of your own needs and beliefs. One must at the needs of the whole world, because we are world leaders. We impact everyone. Hillary was a terrible candidate. That’s why she lost.
We, the ones who voted for Trump, have no idea which way this will go, but we try to be positive. The next 100 days will be crucial. I just heard the Inauguration speech, and I would like to quote our new President, “When You Open Your Heart to Patriotism, There Is No Room for Prejudice…You will never be ignored again.”
As I spoke to Dustin I asked him if there was something he wanted to tell the world, “Can’t we all just get along?”
Having met someone with such a good heart, who was SHAT on by the Obama administration, by the policies brought down by Obama, the former commander-in-chief, I just hope that President Trump doesn’t “ignore” the homeless, the disabled and the ALSO non-humans of our nation.
Thank you for being part of my blog and my Portrait Project. It is my honor to share these phenomenal experiences of these amazing people. I’m giving people who may never have an article written about them an opportunity to be spotlighted online. When I wake up in the morning, I look at my WordPress stats, and someone from India, Africa, Germany or Iceland read my blog. It’s exciting. Thank you so much for being there, wherever, whenever you are.