[COMMENTARY] I Fought for Our Freedoms in Desert Storm. Now I Fight for Them Back at Home.
In 1974 when I was eighteen, I enlisted in the Air Force. I served as an Air Traffic Controller and was stationed all over the world. In 1988 I was selected to serve as a First Sergeant. In 1990 I deployed to Operation Desert Storm as the First Sergeant for the Tanker Task Force. My squadron of 1200 personnel was responsible for all of the Aircraft In-Flight Refueling during Desert Storm. We served alongside an international coalition that came together to repel the fascist takeover of Kuwait. We were a country united and a country respected.
THEN: Michele Tolosky fights for our country in the Air Force.
Fast forward to 2016 and the election of Donald Trump. The nation and the world were in shock. How could we elect someone whose campaign strategy was to attack and make fun of anyone who didn’t get behind his “America is failing” mantra and the remedy that only he, a reality TV celebrity and a failed businessman, could fix it? He promised to deny Muslims entry (except for the ones funding his failed business dealings), and, spewing derogatory and hateful terms to make us fear and hate them, he attacked refugees legally seeking asylum. I have seen him literally hug the American Flag, which, in itself, to me as a Veteran, is disrespectful.
Trump has spent the last three and a half years eroding the checks and balances set forth in the U. S. Constitution. He has attacked the civil rights of women, the LGBTQ+ community, and the IPOC communities, and he has filled his cabinet with actual White Nationalists who have worked tirelessly to erode the basic foundation of the Declaration of Independence: that all men are created equal.
The Republican-controlled U. S. Senate changed the rules for the rich and powerful, giving them trillions in tax cuts. They eliminated those pesky environmental laws that make it so hard for them to make the kind of profits that their investors demand.
Trump began pulling away from our International allies while embracing Vladimir Putin, Kim Jon Un, and Mohammad bin Salman, all murderous dictators. Alarm bells went off around the world. What was happening to the United States? Perhaps the most disturbing revelation was that the GOP-controlled U. S. Senate allowed him to ignore their congressionally mandated oversight and sanctions. When a few finally did speak out, they were crucified by Trump, and they retreated back into their corners.
When the global pandemic hit, every nation took drastic measures to flatten and even crush the curve. Nations who followed scientific guidelines on how to mitigate the virus are beginning to open successfully. Nations that didn’t are seeing a resurgence of the virus that is expected to surpass the initial outbreak. That’s what happened here. We have a President who, even today, feels holding a rally without masks and social distancing is okay and endangering the lives of Americans is not his responsibility
In the middle of the pandemic came the murder of George Floyd. A murder that all of the world watched as the last eight minutes and forty-six seconds of his life ended at the knee of a dirty cop. The incident sparked nationwide BLM Protests. Instead of using this opportunity to unite Americans and vow Police Brutality would be addressed appropriately, the President of the United States used our country’s military as his own personal army to quash peaceful protestors exercising their 1st Amendment Rights. He authorized the use of chemical weapons against Americans so he could march across the street and hold a Bible photo op that was condemned by clergy everywhere. He thought the act made him look tough, but it actually made him look weak, desperate, and vulnerable.
Every single day it’s something new and atrocious with this despotic president. He claims to love the military, but it’s because he thinks that they are his personal SS to be used at his discretion and against his own people.
Instead of leadership, we have an incompetent imposter who is emboldened and enabled by lawmakers who know he is self-serving. My U. S. Representative Elise Stefanik is one of those enablers. She made a hard-right extremist turn with her “performance” during the impeachment hearings. She’s become Trump’s personal piranha, and she regurgitates White House cherry-picked talking points like it’s her full-time job. Betrayed by her is how I feel.
I will turn 64 this year. I have had a front seat to the Civil Rights Movement, Nixon’s Resignation, The Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, 9/11, and the nonstop Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Until now, I have never in all my life felt that the very democracy of our nation was threatened. To also realize that the threat is coming from inside the White House keeps me up at night. But the worst is knowing that we no longer have a functioning government. The three co-equal branches of government are in danger of collapse. AG Barr is firing justices and replacing them with loyalists to shut down investigations. The entire GOP has allowed Trump to commit crimes against his own people, and they have done everything in their power to cover up his multiple failures.
Now instead of an M-16, I pick up a sign and march. I call my elected officials and I write to my local papers. I am tired. Is it enough? This is not what I planned on doing with my retirement, but I will never be silent about the country that I love, which is under attack from within.
About Michelle Tolosky:
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