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  • I worked the Downtown Artists' Cooperative last week and a couple of military couples came in to look around. I spent a long time talking to one couple and he had done a tour of duty in the middle east and had also been stationed in Hawai'i at Schofield Barracks on Oahu. I told them about my living there way back when as an army wife on the north shore and how I had flown over from San Fran on a prop plane in 1960, that took over eight hours to get across the ocean. We talked about how times had changed in the Islands since then and how commercial it had become.

    We also talked about the war in the middle east and his opinions on it. He said they don't want us there and we/they should be here protecting our homeland. We talked about Katrina and how the National Guard wasn't around to help the people here, etc. because they were off somewhere else, how terrorism is increasing from the war and they are trying to infiltrate our country. We also talked about the UN and their responsibility in this ongoing war and how we were not the police of the world. He and I were in agreement, war begets war, and I know there are other wise soldiers serving our country too, who have been there--boots on the ground-- and know firsthand what is really going on.

    We touched on other interesting topics too, like going through customs to get back in the USA, religion, art, all very interesting.
  • Addendum

    I was teaching classes at the local army base right after 9-11, and before they amped up the base security. There were both active duty soldiers and Veterans in the classes and we made art as part of the class. I could see that some of the soldiers had PTSD and their drawings and paintings sometimes depicted the war and their feelings. I gave them the opportunity to say something about their art if they wanted to and they would talk about how it had affected them. I would say a silent prayer that they got help to deal with the effects of the war.

    When they raised the security alert, the education building where I taught, received a sign saying it was a high alert area and they moved all the parking back 200 feet from the building and there was a problem with getting a parking place before this happened and afterwards, you got there an hour before your class started so that you could get a parking place. (There was no reserved staff parking). When you applied to get on post, you now got finger printed and an FBI check was run on you, taking over an hour to get a pass, even with the letter from the college saying I was teaching a class there. The soldiers at the gate now started carrying assault rifles and cars were randomly searched as you went through the gate, even though you had a pass to get on base. It became a nightmare to get to class on time.

    When the war started I would get to class and half of the soldiers would be standing in line for me to sign their withdrawal papers from class, as they had received orders that they were being deployed. Sometimes I would have a wounded soldier in class who couldn't go back to the front line for awhile, and there was always an unrest when the deployment orders came in.

    I also was affected by the deployment of soldiers that I had gotten to know and the emotions of those that were still in class. I was starting to teach online classes for main campus and I requested all online classes for the military base and it was granted. It was a boon to soldiers who were in the middle east as they could take classes even while they were in the war zone and they would send their assignments in by email, which could be spotty, as the internet would go out when there was a sand storm. Some of them took photos for their art projects as there were no art supplies available to use and they were not always pleasant pictures. I would mail them back to them at the end of class. One woman told me to keep the pictures, she never wanted to see them again. I still have soldiers in my classes that are deployed and I don't ask questions and they don't volunteer information.

    I also was closely connected with some Nam Vets in the area and went dancing with my partner at the local VFW on Saturday nights and they were not all for the war and thought it would make matters worse, and they didn't talk about it in front of many other people. Of course some of my friends said lets go kill those &*%, and called me unpatriotic because I wasn't for the war and vengeance and sent prayers to both our own people and the enemy, until their husbands who were in the National Guard, were pulled out of civilian life and sent to parts unknown, and then they changed their minds in a hurry.

    I found this article in a 'conservative' online ezine, which backs up what the soldier and I were discussing at the gallery. I think boots on the ground soldiers have a lot more knowledge of what is going on than we give them credit for.
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