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  • Writer's pictureAngelica De Jesus

Uniform Destruction: Notes on the US Military

I've heard that people in the military refusing to participate in war are labeled enemies of the state.

Perhaps my being family to many people enlisted in the military made it possible for me to understand why some would willingly take on such a label. Perhaps my position as a "military brat" helped me to see the different paths some enlisted people and their families take to understand the military for what it really is. There are some who may consider my stance against war and label me an enemy of the state.

Throughout my life, I've learned enough to make me consider the role of the state and its impact on our world: I learned about the environmental damage caused by military occupation on Borinken's main and smaller islands .I learned about the people who successful organized to remove the poisonous "Rosy Roads" base. I've learned of how long it will take to clean damage in Vieques, PR. I've learned of my father's life as Boricua and in the military.

I learned about the way the military proliferates a dangerous nationalism that displaces kin from kin. I've learned about american exceptionalism, of toxic masculinities, of how an organization creates an enemy. I've learned all this through my exposure to military life, and an intentional unpacking of it all with others.

I learned about the reasons my family members joined, which of them rejected the rhetoric of settler-colonial war & who embraced it. I learned about the walls built around military bases which housed schools that taught me incomplete histories of the US. I learned to keep learning about this institution, this significant presence in my life. Through my time as a child born into a military family I learned about the solidarity between colonial subjects, the networks women, children, and LGBTQ people create to survive being on military bases where domestic violence and sexual abuse flourishes & accountability is missing.

I learned about protests outside the walls of military bases in Japan and many many elsewhere. I learned I was not alone in my questions around nationalism, empire, and the US military. Questions like:

Is the idea of a nation ethical?

What are the limitations of a nation?

What are the boundaries between survival and assimilation?

I learned that people of the island colonies including Hawaii, America Samoa, Puerto Rico and Native Americans on the mainland have a complicated relationship to at the military that we are always unpacking while also maintaining ties to our families and prioritizing what lives beyond the US empire.

I learned there is hope for those who understand the the military as an arm of US empire that provides some w/ safety net services (which should be provided regardless of service) while damaging social, cultural, and environmental ecosystems.

I've learned there are ways to build different worlds that don't include destroying the earth that houses them.

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