Veterans Day 2023
This Veterans Day 2023, I’m remembering our early days of living in New Orleans. I would often ride the City of New Orleans train from Memphis to the city. One trip, I was standing in the line at the canteen—trains have snack bars on their lower levels where you can buy drinks and chips. Shortly before, our armed services had lifted their “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Now, LGBTQ+ folks could officially serve their country without lying about who they were.
A sailor wearing his white uniform stood two people ahead of me in line. He was a slight man, dark-haired. Youngish, but not baby-faced. A middle-aged bearded man was between me and the sailor. The bearded man noticed the sailor’s uniform. He struck up a conversation with the sailor to express his regret—condolences, really—for the country’s change in policy.
“I’m from south Louisiana,” the sailor replied in full Cajun cadence. “All my life, people have taunted and ridiculed me for my accent. Telling me I was ignorant and stupid. If they’ve got my back when it counts, that’s all that matters to me. I’m a red-blooded, Coon-ass American, and I support their right to serve.”
That to me, folks, is America.
Honoring veterans on this Veterans Day 2023.
A photo of Daddy Joe on Veterans Day