First Person: Veterans Day, Personal Loss, and Insight

WW2_Iwo_Jima_flag_raising.jpg
Wikipedia.org

By Daniel Casey Adkins

Veterans Day and Memorial Day are reminders of my family history and my personal loss. They also remind me why I decided to become a democratic socialist.

When I was young, my father died leading a Marine platoon in attack on Iwo Jima during World War II. In the attack, half of his men were either killed or wounded. When he was hit, he refused medical aid and ordered the medic to take care of the Marines that were in his command. He was shot again and died.

My father took responsibility for confronting totalitarianism and for the care of his Marines. My belief in democratic socialism is an extrapolation of my father’s action against fascism and his care for those around him. If you can die for your platoon and country, why not live for humanity and our home the Earth?

The questions that I had about his sacrifice, along with my mother’s decision to remarry a World War II veteran who didn’t want to talk about the war, led me to look into their military histories to learn more about these two men.

Later in my life I tried to find Marines from my biological father’s unit and went to the Iwo Jima Memorial when a reunion was in Washington, D.C. Approaching two older men at the monument, I suddenly could not speak. They waited for me to talk, told me their stories, and suggested that I get in touch with my father’s division. They had both been wounded on Iwo Jima and were evacuated to a hospital ship. All they could think of was crawling out of bed, jumping over the side of the ship, and getting back to their comrades. But their wounds overwhelmed their ability to get back to their buddies. That intense comradeship or solidarity came with a high price on Iwo Jima. The causalities (wounded and dead) for the combat arms were in the 90 percent range. Of the ten officers in my father’s company seven were killed and the rest wounded.

Eventually, at another reunion event, I was able to meet and bond with the Marines in my father’s company and see the cohesion, tenderness, and strife of military relationships. I got to meet the company commander who saw my father’s actions and put my father in for the Navy Cross. A sergeant sent me a beautiful letter about my father and it was clear he was there since he had gotten shot in the neck in that attack. An old commander hugged an enlisted comrade, told him that he loved him, but asked him not to swear. Not swearing in the military is unheard of. The pain of the battle memories was seen when one of the veterans was not able to watch World War II documentaries – it was just too upsetting. At another convention there was a story of an Iwo Jima veteran in his 80s who tried to commit suicide because of the nightmares he had been having for decades. A trip to Iwo Jima with veterans helped him work through his nightmares. These stories and others have helped me understand and bond with Iwo Jima veterans.

During the Vietnam War era I became a veteran. The Vietnam War was difficult for me in that the war made no political sense. One would not support the U.S. intervention if you believed in the supposed American value of political self-determination through elections. But in my mental confusion I felt I had to become an officer like my fathers and I enlisted. However, soon after I received orders to go to Vietnam I learned that I was not required to serve because I was a sole surviving son.

My time in the Army did not influence me as much as my fathers did. My biological father’s sacrifice inspired my belief in democratic socialism, and my adopted father’s career as a college professor led to my passion for analysis. My biological father gave me the middle name of Francis. Saint Francis was the patron saint of nature, the poor, and nonviolence — and only now am I seeing what that might mean.

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

 

Grassroots Fundraising: Paying for the Revolution (9pm Eastern)

June 23, 2017
· 46 rsvps

Are you new to socialist organizing? Or after many years do you still struggle, raising money from members when you need it but without a steady flow of income or budget to plan ahead? Are you afraid to tackle fundraising because it seems so daunting or you are uncomfortable asking people for money?

In this webinar, you will learn why fundraising is organizing, and how to do it – face to face, through fundraising events, and other ideas.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

Instructor:

  • Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

Training Details:

  1. Workshops are free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have preferably headphones or else speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt talt@igc.org.
  5. If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt schmittaj@gmail.com 608-355-6568.
  6. Participation requires that you register at least 21 hours in advance -- by midnight Thursday for Friday's webinar.

NOTE: This training is scheduled for 9:00pm Eastern Time (8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6pm Pacific, 5 pm Alaska, 3 pm Hawaii).

Data Security for DSA Members

June 27, 2017

Ack! I googled myself and didn't like what I found!

WHAT: A DSA Webinar about "Doxing"
WHEN: 9PM EST, 6PM PST

We're proud of our organizing, and chapter work is transparent for both political and practical reasons. However, there are basic precautions you can take in this time of rapid DSA growth to protect your privacy.

Key Wiki is a website that meticulously documents DSA activity and posts it for the world to see. If you're an active DSA member, likely your name is on their website. This is an example of "doxing".

As DSA becomes larger, more visible, and more powerful, we might expect that more websites like this will pop up, and more of our members' information might be posted publicly on the web.

Join a live webinar on Tuesday, June 27 with data security expert Alison Macrina, to learn:

  1. what is doxing? with examples and ways to prevent it
  2. how to keep your passwords strong and your data secure
  3. where to find your personal info on the internet and how to get it removed
  4. social media best practices for DSA organizers
  5. what to do if you've already been doxed

Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/9173276528

Call-in Info: +1 408 638 0968
Meeting ID: 917 327 6528

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 8 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.