fourbroadsinabus

Freedom Beat Across America: In Search of America's Heartbeat

Archive for the tag “documentary”

More from Dottie’s Journal

More from Dottie — remembering the adventures of the four broads as they drove across the southern U.S. in the summer of 2011:

August 7th, 2011

We arrived in Boswell, Oklahoma to meet up with Don “Pappy” Papin.  He is State Captain for the Patriot Guard [Riders](OK).  He was a wealth of information.  (unlike the publicity-shunning members in Oklahoma City)

On Monday we met up with three others in the Guard.  They are “Chief”, “Judge”, and “Leatherneck”.  (even here we met with the reluctance of the Patriot Guard Riders to have any light shine on them rather than on the veterans they seek to honor. So I am not giving the real names that Dottie recorded in her journal.   However:

(Three of the four were veterans themselves)  Pappy was an Air Force Airman 1st Class.  “Chief” was a Navy Seaman (of course), and “Leatherneck” was a corporal in the Marines (natch — name’s kinda a giveaway) until he lost a leg and knee in Viet Nam.  Judge was a civilian Patriot (just wanting to do something for the kids coming home).

The Dixie Café in Boswell was host to our breakfast and after explaining that we would not alter what was said, the men agreed to our recorded interview.   Don gave us a DVD with mission footage [that he said] we may use. (in the documentary which is still in production at this time)

August 10th:

Corsicana, Texas

We visited the Pearce Museum at Navarro College campus in Corsicana.  Pearce Civil War Museum is an interactive museum featuring firsthand accounts of the Civil War, through letters, diaries and journals from civilians and soldiers of that time period.

As we drove up to the front of the building, out front was a retired Air Force fighter plane.  The building, red brick with a porticoed front, reminded me of the front of Monticello (Tom Jefferson’s place, which we actually didn’t get to see this trip, so I have to take her word for it!)  [There was also] a bronze statue of an American Indian making an offering to the Great Spirit, a preview of the Western-themed art exhibit waiting inside.

The foyer was a dome with stained glass discs of Copernicus, Galileo, Einstein, Isaac Newton and the German responsible for rockets.  (We think she meant Wernher von Braun, but don’t hold us to it.)

The building houses the museum and planetarium.  Behind the receptionist’s desk was a wall of glass bricks with frosted scenes depicting an astronomer and the solar system.

We waited for the museum administrator to see if we could have permission to take pictures or video record inside the museum.  We met with the Director, and she explained that it was bad timing since they were installing a new exhibit.  She explained that there could not be any photography or video recording in the museum and in the art gallery.  We were given free admittance (appreciated deeply!) and fell in with a tour group and went along as a curator gave a very informative tour to us and about five others.

After the tour I spoke with [the director] again, and she agreed to provide us with a DVD with film clips from the Civil War footage they have, some stills, copies of letters and information with full permission for use in our documentary.  (Unfortunately, to date we haven’t received any of it and she has never returned our phone calls or emails.  Dottie thinks perhaps she got a “no” from above.  Personally, I’m thinking ‘outa sight, outa mind’.  It happens.  Too bad – we were very excited by her promises, and would have featured the museum prominently in the documentary.)

Dottie’s thoughts in Oklahoma City

Continuing with Dottie’s rediscovered journal of our Freedom Beat trip across America in search of America’s heartbeat (again, any errors in transcription are mine):

August 5, 2011
Today we hoped to make it to Oklahoma City and meet up with Don “Pappy” Papin, Oklahoma Captain of the Patriot Guard.

waiting . . .

Pappy's colors

He was busy with other members of the Guard, meeting a disabled veteran at the airport. Instead, we met up with Ride Captain Pam Tate. Pam came to our hotel and despite her very busy schedule and her having to get up very early the next day, we went out for a late dinner to get to know one another.
The Patriot Guard is careful who they talk to. Their whole mission is to provide service to veterans in any way that is needed. They shy away from any recognition that takes the focus away from those that serve their country and often make the ultimate sacrifice.

August 6, 2011
This morning (Saturday) we went to the YMCA-sponsored welcome center at Will Rogers Airport. We were greeted by Millie, a kind of house-mom.
The USO usually sponsors the airport Welcome Centers. Will Rogers and the Anchorage, Alaska, airports are both too small for the USO to sponsor, so the YMCA sponsors them both. It is set up as a place where the military men and women can relax in between flights and in some cases, when they first get home and can meet their family.
I was saddened to be told by Millie that thieves had broken in two times during the previous week and stole two flat-screen TV’s, one a 50″, and an Xbox with all the games and controller. There was also an amplifier for the guitars that lined up against the wall. I think to do something like that is the lowest of the low.
While sitting in the Welcome Home Center, I looked around at the people in the two large rooms. Mothers and fathers, girlfriends and wives. The center provides a place to visit with their families during flight layovers, or prior to deployment flights. One young soldier was sound asleep, laying on a couch with a blanket pulled over him. A sleep so serene, one without the worry. He was comfortable knowing he could sleep without worrying he would be killed in his sleep. Another young man stretched out with his head in a young woman’s lap. A young wife waiting for her young man to be deployed. Worried if this would be the last time they would see each other.
I got to meet with Zorro, a two-year-old registered rough collie. Zorro’s assistant and agent is Renee Leach. As a certified therapy dog, Zorro works with autistic children, visits with Alzheimers patients. He has been coming into the Welcome Center for several months to visit with the young men and women that often are missing their own loving companions. Zorro has a whole repertoire of tricks as well as being friendly and spending some quiet time with an aching heart. Renee said it is just one way to let the troops know that they are appreciated, and it is so very little to give when compared to what the troops have given. Renee and Zorro work with HALO, Humans Animal Link Oklahoma.

Moving on, in different ways

Well, it beats getting another ladder

After three weeks of new-computer problems, it’s time to bring things up to date (which is not the same thing as ‘update’ and I’ve had quite enough of updating during these last three weeks, thank you).
The sound studio moves on. The wall-to-wall ceiling and floor insulation is pretty much in place with, as someone said, enough staples to make it resemble chainmail. It’s not going to fall down any time soon. It’s actually quite cozy in there, especially with November’s drizzly ice-cold rain coming down outside.  The walls are fuzzy — if anyone needs some head-banging time, we’ve got the perfect place, cheap rates.  Next comes the office, where the operational equipment will be. Just a matter of moving everything that we moved out of the studio area into the office, from the office area to ? Oh dear, here we go again, move this over here so we can move that in there. I know Will calls this house the Tardis, but it’s not really unlimited.

This will NOT fit in my bedroom

We are still filming interviews for the documentary. Just a week ago we met up with a Viet Nam vet who spends his time not only helping his fellow vets, but reaching out to the young ones coming back, bewildered, from a war just as horrendous in a desert as the other was in a jungle. The ones, he says poignantly, who managed “some sort of survival”. He spoke of his nephew, killed in Fallujah in 2004. And of a buddy who stood up just in time to take a bullet meant for him. He spoke of what it’s like to come home to people who simply cannot understand, no matter how much they try, no matter how much they want to understand. His advice? Get professional help as soon as you can. Not psycho-crap, just someone who knows, who’s been there and can help you find your way through your own particular jungles, back home to a life that will never be what you once thought it would be but can still be everything you want it to be.

“It’s not weakness,” he says to those who hesitate. “It’s not weakness, it’s strength. Weakness is giving up. Strength is asking for help, getting it and moving on.”

Ooo-rah, gunny.

We’re makin’ a movie!

the Freedom Beat Bus

The eventual purpose of this road trip is to produce a film documentary. People have asked us to make a statement about why we want to cover this particular subject. After some thought, here’s mine:
I am of the Viet Nam generation. I didn’t protest the war – by the time I took a breath from raising children and started considering what the government was doing over there, it was over. For my second husband, however, it was never over. He never forgot being called a “baby-killer” when he came home. I don’t believe any of my generation begrudges the young ones their welcome-home parades, but I think there will always be a tinge of bitterness over the difference in people’s attitudes. Over what our husbands and brothers missed out on.
When my son returned from Desert Storm, I was thrilled to watch his town give a parade, and even more thrilled to see the tears in his tough man’s eyes. My other son has served a lifetime in the Army Special Forces, an outfit that discourages public recognition, and yet I’ve seen the pride in his eyes too. I could not be more proud and want to meet other moms and their soldier children.
Have there always been victory parades? Or were there other wars where veterans were vilified, or simply ignored and forgotten as soon as possible? Are we the only country that has a love-hate relationship with our military? Wanting to honor the young ones for their sacrifices, and yet unable to ignore that ingrained American fear of a military strong enough to threaten our civilian executive, legislative or judiciary?
My father told stories of the days of WWII and Korea when he and his buddies in uniform could stick out a thumb and be given rides to wherever they wanted to go. But, my father would add in wonder, it was safe back then. It never occurred to anyone that it wasn’t. He wouldn’t do it now, no matter how much the American public waves the flag. Has the trust gone? Was it ever really there?
In 1962 John Steinbeck stood witness as scores of people lined an Alabama street to scream insults and threats at a tiny black girl who dared attend a “white” school. And his question was, where are the people on the other side? Her defenders, the common people who believed that she had every right to attend a particular school in the same peace and honor as any other child in that town? Why aren’t they out there too, being just as vocal?
As I watched the Patriot Guard use their bodies to shield a family from the “free speech” of hate-filled religious homophobics, I wondered: Why aren’t there more defenders? Where are the ones who believe in the decency of allowing a family to bury their child in peace and honor? Why aren’t they out there too? And why was the Patriot Guard even there to begin with? How did a group that tends to be looked on as a fringe “biker” mob end up being the only people to literally stand between a grieving family and those who sought to turn that grief into horror?
I’d like to explore these questions and see if it isn’t time we all tried to answer them.

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