Posts Tagged ‘veterans’

Usually, an “emergency” action in San Francisco concerning the military means a protest against an American act of war.

But Wednesday night, after President Trump’s morning announcement that transgenders would no longer be allowed, almost 1,000 people met in the Castro and marched for the right to serve. With chants including “Out of the bars and into the streets,” evoking Harvey Milk and 1970s gay rights, they blocked traffic on Market Street until reaching City Hall, which was lit in the light blue and pink colors of the transgender flag.

Speakers included those who have served, and a teen who wanted to continue the family tradition of military service. Of course, many others did point out their objection to the military on grounds such as oppression and better use of resources.

It made me wonder about the number of transgenders, which President Obama lifted the official ban on last year. A lot of media referenced last year’s RAND Corporation report titled “Assessing the Implications of Allowing Transgender Personnel to Serve Openly” that gave a “midrange estimate of around 2,450 transgender personnel in the active component (out of a total number of approximately 1.3 million active-component service members) and 1,510 in the selected reserve.” So, a small amount of the less than 1 percent of Americans active in the all-volunteer military.

It made me think of my interview with attendee Tayler Williams, who while not looking to join the military service, said transgender people should be given the opportunity.

“I thought he was crazy, ‘cause he’s going to start a war, and he’s going to need people to fight. And if they’re willing to fight, they should be able to.”

Here’s video from the protest.

 

 

Speaking of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender communities, last month was Pride. Some have criticized it for becoming too corporate instead of political as it has grown. But like many such events across the country this year, opposition to President Trump’s views including immigration, refugees, the Muslim registry, and Black Lives Matter took center stage. The first several contingents were dedicated to those causes. Some carried flags and signs, with a group of women taking a more militant stance with masks and bats. That was followed by hours more of politicians, corporate floats, school marching bands, and the like. I felt old when the younger folks in attendance got all excited when cast members of Internet shows “13 Reasons Why” and “Orange is the New Black” came through, and I was not starstruck nor in possession of a good cell phone to prepare a proper selfie.

In gathering interviews, I came across gay rights activists John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney in the crowd, who said all those at risk from Trump’s policies must come together.

“The new administration in Washington, once again, the LGBT community feels under threat,” Lewis said. “Stand up. Stand up for our lives. Stand up for the lives of so many people who are suffering of the new administration.”

Here is video from that.

 

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I was walking along Freedom Boulevard, in Freedom, Calif., looking for a photocopy store when I saw veterans selling fireworks for the Fourth of July. I then found out this area was formerly called Whiskey Hill, with the current name more about leaving behind its Wild West days than patriotism.

Independence Day this year fell on a Saturday, and the day before I got a chauffeuring job to rural Santa Cruz. Between dropping off and picking up, I ran a couple errands, but really had a few hours to kill. So instead of driving I walked.

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That’s when I saw Michael Baker, commander of The American Legion Post 121, with several others at their fireworks stand. Around the holiday, many community groups in California get permission to sell so-called “safe and sane” fireworks like sparklers and fountains. They don’t explode like firecrackers or shoot up like rockets, which are illegal everywhere in the state. With the backdrop of Freedom and veterans, I wanted to get a shot. Baker, a Vietnam War veteran dressed as Uncle Sam, was more than happy to talk about their group, stand and how things have been going. Last year they got $3,200, split between two groups. This year there are concerns with the drought. They unfortunately can only do cash since their credit card machine was not up, and a lot of groups got permits to operate, cutting the profits. Freedom may only be a few thousand people large, but everywhere has a story.

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A few blocks away I found the local photocopy store I saw in the phone book, but it was closed, probably because of the holiday. On the outside wall of a nearby bar and grill, a Pajaro Valley Historical Association, Monterey Viejo Chapter 1846, E Clampus Vitus plaque read “violence, hangings, drinking, and bull and bear fights were part of daily life” in what was formerly Whiskey Hill. Looking into it more, I learned it also had a reputation for brothels, and in 1877 the name was changed to Freedom in hopes of changing the image. The social issues with waves of young men during California’s early days wasn’t limited to here, but I had never heard of it being so connected to town names.

Since I was driving, I did not try the whiskey, and didn’t have a lot of time to look into the history further. But still an interesting first time in Freedom/Whiskey Hill.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to get my photo of the plaque, but this is one I found online.