“Because the world is held together with broken lies and promises . . .” ~ Matthew Ryan, “The World Is . . .”

                   

“This is an invisible song
From an invisible man
Lost in the wilderness
Of a static avalanche” ~ Matthew Ryan, “The World Is . . .”

If you believe as I do that DADT is repugnant and has cost the U.S. military too many dedicated men and women, then please read the following.

Jeremy’s letter has been nominated for CNN’s first ever iReport Awards.  Click the link, read the story and vote for it.

Link to vote is here.

Link to his letter is here

Sailor Jeremy Johnson

Jeremy Johnson joined the Navy in 1996 and received an honorable discharge after he came out to his commanding officer in 2007. He shared the powerful letter that ended his career because he wanted others to see how coming out in the military feels.

iReport — **UPDATE – 2/16/2011:  Since the Repeal Law was signed December 22, 2010, I am now working with my Conressional Representative to return to military service. Though it cannot happen until certification is signed and 60 days have passed, my local Navy recruiter has made it clear I will be welcome.  Thank you all for your thoughtful words and encouragement.** 

I thought I might share the note that got me booted from the United States Navy. The CO read it very carefully and before turning it over to the JAG (legal department), asked me to reconsider. I was told that the policy would be probably be overturned soon and that I could simply take the paperwork with me like it never happened. I wish he had been right… that was almost three years ago and even with President Obama in office the enacted repeal won’t begin for at least 12 months.  In the end, I did receive an Honorable discharge. 

Here’s the Coming Out letter I handed my Commanding Officer: 

March 6, 2007 

Captain, 

I have served the United States Navy in an Honorable fashion since I joined in December of 1996. In ten years of service, I have made every effort to make a difference in the lives of the people I have both worked for and supervised. 

At Yokota Air Base, I did my best to learn my new trade in a joint service environment and pass it on to those around me.In Italy, as a newly-frocked Third Class Petty Officer, I worked to bring an un-designated Sailor into our rate and he is now a First Class Petty Officer. 

In Washington, D.C., I served a high profile tour as a broadcast “A” school instructor, not really to teach journalism, but to be at the career gateway where I could help new Sailors prepare for their lives in the active fleet once they graduated. It was one of the richest and most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. 

In Greece, I inherited a cable TV-based radio station with no existing  “On-Air” practices and institutionalized it to DoD standards within nine months, bringing it online in time to launch the first “over-the-air” military radio station in Greece since 1995. 

I am proud of all of these accomplishments.  What I am not proud of however, is my forced lack of Integrity. Throughout my career, I’ve had to practice a duality that requires me to serve my country under false pretenses. 

I am a homosexual American citizen and while I fight to defend the rights of free speech and a democratic legislature process, I suffer because these very same freedoms are denied to me as a gay Sailor. I can not write to my congressional members and tell them my story without risking my career. 

On a regular and increasing basis, I am hearing and even reading (in shipboard e-mail) demeaning remarks and comments belittling homosexuals. While I was once willing to endure these comments and give up my otherwise constitutionally guaranteed freedom to defend myself (were I black, Asian, etc.), I now find I’m unwilling and unable to continue. 

Therefore, I am respectfully requesting that you, my Commanding Officer, endorse my request to be administratively separated from the U.S. Navy on the grounds of a “homosexual statement”. (MILPERSMAN 1910-148) 

I realize I’m asking for an RE-4 discharge and forfeiting the right to return to military service. This request comes because I value the Navy core values of “Honor, Courage and Commitment” more than the moral dilemma of whether to complete another year of service and accept government benefits based on another day, week or month of carrying on my life as a liar. 

While I’ve remained silent, men like Army PFC Barry Winchell and Navy SN Allan Schindler, both killed by fellow service members, suffered the physical repercussions of mere perception.  Men like gay Marine Sgt. Eric Alva, the first soldier to be injured in Iraq, were unable to call home to a “significant other” because they weren’t allowed to have one in the first place, let alone communicate with them.  In fact, under the policy, Sgt. Alva wasn’t even allowed to mention his sexuality to friends or family. 

Living with the ever-present worry of being “outed” is a sacrifice that has affected me both mentally and physically (for anxiety and lack of sleep) and unless the Navy leaves me no other options, I would like return to a civilian lifestyle. 

I recently received my profile sheet from the 2007 Chief’s exam and my score was in the 91st percentile. I have made the eligibility list and I realize that I stand a decent chance of picking up E-7. However, I have no intention of submitting a “package” or even of accepting the promotion if selected. 

In Italy, I worked for a Chief who had 16-years of service and was one of the most professional and outstanding khakis I’ve ever known. Unfortunately, one year after he transferred to Boston, he realized that the same sacrifice I’ve described above was too difficult for even a 17-year Sailor and worked with his Commanding Officer to exit the Navy.  His CO considered him a valuable asset and she asked him to reconsider his statement, even refusing initially to let him go.  By no stretch of the imagination has his discharge made his life easier, but it has made him immeasurably happier. 

One of my former “A” school students, JO1 Rhonda Davis, made national headlines in 2006 for standing on the Brooklyn Bridge during a rally and announcing on the radio that she wanted equality so she could be with her Asian girlfriend.  When approached by her CO, he told her that if it wasn’t her who made the comment “I’d like to marry my Japanese girlfriend” on the radio, all she had to do was deny it and the whole thing would go away.  After considering for a moment, she replied, “Sir, I believe you have the facts wrong.” He asked what she meant, presumably hoping she would say that it wasn’t her. She replied, “My girlfriend is Korean.” 

He laughed and though he said he would miss her dedication, he worked with her to let her exit the military under Honorable Conditions and she now works in the civilian sector… also much happier, though also notably disappointed that she gave up an 11-year military career she loved. 

Regardless of geography or rank, two more years of living under these conditions would be unbearable for me. I’m losing respect for myself.  Air Force Technical Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, a gay Vietnam veteran who passed away in 1988 was buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. with this simple statement on his tombstone: 

“When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” 

It’s a contradiction and observation that describes the way I feel about my service. Wanted, yet unsupported. I awake every morning and look into the mirror at the face of a hypocrite.  I know that you have the option of denying this request based on “needs of the Navy”, but I am risking humiliation and ridicule by my shipmates at this command to humbly ask for your assistance. 

Please help me by giving me the opportunity to restore my dignity and my life by living it as an Honest Man. 

Very Respectfully…

“Freedom lies in being bold.” ~ Robert Frost

More later. Peace.

Music by Matthew Ryan, “The World Is . . .”

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“Perfect valor is to behave, without witnesses, as one would act were all the world watching.” ~ François de la Rochefoucau

   

 

“Four things support the world: the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the good, and the valor of the brave.” ~ Muhammad 

Memorial Day is upon us again. I won’t bother to harp on how this day—which was created to honor our fallen, our warriors, our heroes—has turned into yet another shopping extravaganza, a three-day weekend heralding beach weather, a day off from work with pay. Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May. The first known celebration was after the Civil War in 1866 in Waterloo, New York, to honor fallen Union soldiers.

In 1971, the name was officially changed to Memorial Day as part of the Uniform Holidays Bill, which created three three-day weekends: President’s Day, Veterans’ Day, and Memorial Day. In 1978, Veterans’ Day was changed back to its original date of November 11. The VWF has long taken issue with the official date change from May 30 to the last Monday in May as having “undermined the very meaning of the holiday” (2002 address).

In my own attempt to honor those who serve, I thought that I would do a post on something quite timely: I came across this piece by Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball.” Matthews is one of my favorite political analysts. He isn’t afraid to be enthusiastic, nor is he reluctant to admit that he might be wrong. But I felt that this particular piece about a gay man in the military is wholly appropriate for Memorial Day. The sexual orientation of the person who stands next to you when you go into battle matters less than the person’s ability to do his or her job, less than that individual’s belief in country, less than that man or woman’s commitment to having the back of the man or woman five feet away. 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Chris Matthews: DADT“, posted with vodpod

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was essentially a slap in the face, yet another thing that Clinton backpeddled on and soft soaped. Gays have been serving in the military for as long as there has been war. If you don’t believe that, then your head is stuck somewhere, not sure where. And these people deserve the right to have their partners informed when they are hurt, or worse, killed in action. These dedicated men and women deserve no less and no more than anyone else in their companies, their units, their battalions. 

Memorial Day is a day to remember, a day to pause and reflect. Memorial Day should be the same for everyone because blood that is shed runs red, regardless of faith, orientation, political belief, or color.  I long for the day when there will be no need to send our brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, daughters and sons to war, but I know that that time will not come in my lifetime. 

 

Peace be with you all. 

The incomparable Ray Charles singing “America the Beautiful”
 

 

If It’s Friday, It Must Mean Leftovers . . .

 

Key West lightning by Janson Jones

Key West Lightning by Janson Jones

 

Daniel: Don’t you know anything you can tell me?
Miyagi: Hai. No get hit.

Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance? 
Daniel:  Yeah.
Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?

justdrops by Reys from The Gold Puppy
"Just Drops" from The Gold Puppy

Massive thunderstorms in the area last night. I had to turn off my computer as I did not want to chance another freak power surge like the one that took out half of the house’s electronics a couple of years ago. So unfortunately, I did not get to post.

It was an incredible storm: brilliant flashes of lightning and resounding thunder. I’m glad that none of our current dogs are afraid of thunderstorms. Murphy, our last lab was terrified of storms and fireworks, and it just broke my heart to watch her. Her eyes would get big, and she would try to crawl under any piece of furniture that she could find, which is kind of hard for a lab.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about that with Tillie, Alfie or Shakes. I believe they could sleep through just about anything, unless of course air happens to be circulating outside the door, in which case, they must move en masse to the living room and bark hysterically until someone yells at them to shut up. Then they all retreat back to the bedroom and become sleeping lumps again.

Miyagi: [shrugging] … Because sometimes, what heart know, head forget

Well Eamonn penned his first batch of thank you notes today. I was very proud of him; even though I gave him the three basic sentences that any thank you note should have—acknowledgement of being remembered, thanks for specific present, and closing thanks—he took it a step further and personalized all of his notes. How nice.

And he hasn’t given me any grief about imposing the thank you note restriction before he can actually have gift in hand. I thought for sure that he would quibble with me, but he has surprised me, so I need to take back any mean things that I may have been thinking about him, not that I would ever think any mean things about eldest son—after all, I’m his mother, and in my eyes, he can do no wrong . . .

Far North Bicentennial Prk Anchorage by JJ
Far North Bicentennial Park, Anchorage by Janson Jones
Perhaps he is on a new path. We’ll have to wait and see. Let’s move along. Shall we?
 

Daniel: Hey, where did these old cars come from?
Miyagi: Detroit.

The gardenias are in full bloom, and I’m keeping the house full of freshly-cut blooms. The front butterfly garden is starting to come into bloom as well. I’ll try to take some pictures and post them once we begin to attract butterflies.

GardeniasThat’s the highpoint of the summer season for me: watching all of the butterflies and moths dance through the blooms and leaves. I know, small things, but hey, I believe in appreciating beauty wherever I can find it.

About beauty, I’m featuring a few more picture from Janson Jones’s Floridana Alaskiana blog in this post. He has been doling out the photographic gems from his Florida trip in between other posts, and I’m loving all of them.

Miyagi: Daniel-san, never put passion before principle. Even if win, you lose.

Speaking of Janson’s blog, I had to pause when I read his most recent posts on what is going on in Anchorage. Apparently there is a big brouhaha in the Alaskan city over a proposed gay rights ordinance. According to Janson’s post, the protests are over “Anchorage Ordinance Number 64, which is intended to provide extended and protective rights to gays and other minority groups in Anchorage.”

Ordinance 64 anti protest sign2Now let me pause here. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you already know how I feel about this issue. I am completely stupefied that society is still fighting over whether or not the GLBT segment of society deserves to be treated just like everyone else. But after seeing some of the signs being hoisted by the opposition, I must confess that I am beyond stupefied, beyond mortified. I am flapping my gums speechless (well, almost).

As you can see from the smaller sign in the picture on the right, the holder is purporting that “gays recruit children.” I thought that Ellen Degeneres clarified this particular nonsensical position years ago when she made it clear that for every person recruited, said gay person receives a toaster oven. It’s a joke, people. I mean really: “recruits children.” That is just feeble, uninformed, and sadly ignorant.

Or let’s take this sign: 98.5% of America is straight. That one really blew me away. I’m sure that it would shock many of these sign holders to find out just how many people in their lives are gay.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, “Nearly 550 people have signed up to testify on the ordinance, which would add ‘sexual orientation’ to the list of classes protected from discrimination. Classes already protected include race, ethnicity, age, sex, marital status, and others.”  For me, this just seems like a logical addition, an affirmation of civil rights, if you will.

The article continues: “In general, they argue that gays and lesbians shouldn’t be protected because of their immoral lifestyles, or that protection isn’t needed because discrimination doesn’t occur, or that passing the ordinance opens the door to same-sex marriage in Alaska and they don’t want that.”

I had my Irish up (which is pretty hard when you’re Filipino, and I hope that that idiom is not considered derogatory as I’ve used it for years) over the whole situation, but Janson, ever the logical, reminded me that “the fact that there were only three cops (that I saw) standing watch and smiles on most folks’ faces (most, but not all) is a reminder of what we do and can have in this country (violent nut-jobs excepted)—non-violent, peaceful activism, regardless of the merits or rationality of any given side’s actual argument. A few decades ago, rocks would’ve been thrown at the pro gay rights crowd and they wouldn’t have been able to demonstrate side-by-side.”

Janson’s observations were that instead of the opposing sides being physically separate, the pros and the cons were on the same side, mingling, and there didn’t seem to be any hate-speak going on.

Obama signing GBLT memoPersonally, I find that pretty amazing. I know that I fly off the handle pretty quickly when I learn of or see such things, and it’s nice to have a calmer voice reminding me of just how far those of us who believe in equal rights for all people have actually come.

That being said, we still have so far to go. Even President Obama’s recent Presidential Memorandum allowing for some extended benefits, such as visitation or dependent-care rights, to the same-sex partners of gay federal employees seems like a grain of sand in an hourglass that is bypassing the candidate of change.

DADT (don’t ask/don’t tell) was supposed to be repealed. Remember that promise? We’re still waiting . . .

Perhaps Obama plans to mete out change in tiny increments so that he isn’t shoving it down the throats of the Neo-Cons. But geez. DADT seems like such a no-brainer, at least to me.

Daniel: You think you could break a log like that??
Miyagi: Don’t know. Never been attacked by a tree.

Praying Mantis from Natl Geo
Praying Mantis from National Geographic (has nothing to do with this section; I just love the picture)

On to other things . . .

I learned today that the insurance company through which I receive my long-term disability benefits is denying my request for an upgrade of 6 percent as I paid for that option when I was actively employed by The George Washington University. Quelle surprise. The upgrade is supposed to be allowable for any non pre-existing conditions.

Well, my fybromyalgia was not diagnosed until November 26, 2007—after I had already been put on LT disability. However, just as I expected, the company found four pages of reasons as to why I do not qualify for this additional benefit for which I paid. Apparently, the doctor who diagnosed me did not list all of the criteria needed for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia according to the “American College of Rheumatology criteria.”

What is it with insurance companies that they will gladly take your money in premiums, but they will nickle and dime you to death over benefits owed you?

I really hope that Obama’s supposedsocialist health care reforms will somehow trickle down to me because my monthly premium for health care is unbelievably high, and it only covers me, not the rest of my family. Thankfully, the boys are covered by their father’s policy until they are 19 unless they are in college. Corey was covered by his former union, and that’s one of the things that we’re keeping our fingers crossed over until he gets his new job.

Daniel: Wouldn’t a fly swatter be easier?
Miyagi: Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.

I wonder if there is anything else that I can bitch about in this post? Not in the mood to tackle Rush today. That’s usually a post by itself. The situation with the mortgage? Too depressing. The Virginia Gubernatorial race? Not ready for that one yet. The current state of Izzie the Trooper’s health? She’s in the shop now getting an estimate on how many arms and legs they want to make her run again.

I did see something completely sweet today, though. Brett’s two gerbils—Ben and Jerry—were snuggled up in the corner of their home, spooning. It was an aww moment.

Mr Miyagi with Chopsticks
The late Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi

Let me leave you with this tidbit of information: PETA (yes I believe in treating animals well, but these people are way over the top), objects to the way in which President Obama killed the fly that was dive-bombing him during a television interview. If you recall, Obama slapped the fly in a Mr. Miyagi move and nailed it. PETA has sent the President a fly trap that will catch the fly, and then said pest can be released outside.

Okay. I don’t believe in killing crickets or praying mantisssses or ladybugs or similar beautiful insects because it’s bad joss. But flies create maggots. Maggots make me gag. Big time. Flies also transmit diseases. The Black Plague of Europe anyone? Remember rats? Flies? Lots of dead people. Unfunny.

PETA needs to get a grip. The President wasn’t shooting wolves from a helicopter or field dressing a moose in the Rose Garden. Those things are appalling, and we all know of someone who boasted about doing them. Killing a dirty fly that feeds on feces? I’m sorry, but I have to give the Prez a big Miyagi “hai” for that one.

I need to go read and put ice on my head. More later. Peace.

Daniel:You’re the best friend I’ve ever had.
Miyagi: You… pretty okay, too.

Oh yeah. The whole Karate Kid thing? I know. I’m a dork.

                                                                                                          

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