Living Out Loud
May 7th, 2024

Five Things I've Protested

Antiwar Veteran
Antiwar Veteran


I was relatively apolitical through my twenties. My mom and stepfather were Democrats when I was a kid and people like Richard Nixon and Jesse Helms didn't get many kind words in our home. Later I went to live with my Dad, a Vietnam veteran and staunch Republican but in those days politics just wasn't front and center in people's lives the way it is today. A lot of people in the south were glad to see Jimmy Carter get elected because he was one of us. Conversely, Reagan was also popular with the older generation who remembered him as a movie star.  I was in the military in the 80s and I just accepted that we needed to be ready to take on the Russians and that we definitely needed to be in Central America. Mostly, I didn't think about politics. I thought Rush Limbaugh (circa the early 90s) was funny.

Then I met someone at work who was definitely political. She had a "Mother's For Choice" bumper sticker on her Chevette and when we started dating I found out that she actually gave part of meager salary from the factory we worked at to organizations like Amnesty International and the ACLU. I was fascinated. Through her I met other people who were active in various struggles. We eventually got married and I transformed from someone who rarely thought about contemporary issues into someone who thought of little else.

The Death Penalty


Despite of (or maybe because of) my employment history as a prison guard I became active in the campaign for a moratorium on the death penalty in NC, a campaign that eventually succeeded I'm happy to say. Our state hasn't carried out an execution since 2006.

Amendment Against Same Sex Marriage


Before Oberkfell, North Carolina had a constitutional referendum that led to a ban on same sex marriage. During the lead up to that, I found myself, a recovering alcoholic and decidedly heterosexual man going to gay bars to attend organizing meetings as the progressive community  fought to prevent the amendment's passage.

The War in Iraq


My son was had just graduated from naval basic training when the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened. I watched with horror as the US used an attack by 19 Saudi Arabians to manufacture a war in Iraq based on lies. I became part of an organization called Military Families Speak Out. My son became a military resister in 2003 and I spent the next few years traveling all over the US and Europe organizing against the war. in 2005, outside of Ft. Bragg, anti-war vets and Military families led the biggest antiwar demonstration outside a military base since the Vietnam war.

Charlottesville


After the Unite the Right demonstration and riot in Charlottesville in 2017, I participated in community events in my hometown against white supremacy and fascists. I'll never forget the interracial crowd that met on the Sunday after Charlottesville on the grounds of the former Confederate Arsenal (destroyed by General Sherman's troops) a couple of miles from my home.

Various Trump Atrocities


I don't like to talk to much about Donal Trump. He tends to take up too much oxygen but I've been part of the struggle against the Muslim ban and  supporting the Women's March on Washington. As much as I hate it, resisting him will probably be the next thing that gets me back on  the streets.