July 4th

07/04/2013

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1973, I was standing on the grass, off the side of a road in Washington State, when several police officers, pulling up in speeding cruisers and motorcycles, surrounded me and pointed their guns at me, hand-cuffed me, pushed my face down hard onto the burning hot hood of the police cruiser. I was two weeks shy of twenty years old and had hair half-way down my back. I was with a guy with a butch haircut. They tried to take my backpack off my back while my hands were hand-cuffed behind my back, ripping out some of my hair in the process. They were very rough. As I stood, they pulled off my boots and socks. Their hands went up my pant-legs, in my pockets, down my pants. They knew that one of us was AWOL from the Army and they were going to find out which one of us it was. It took them about 15 minutes to figure it out.

My knapsack had been emptied and the contents kicked around by the police. When they decided it was the other guy they were looking for, they took me out of the back of the cruiser, unhandcuffed me and screamed at me to "pick up that shit and get the fuck out of here!" I was shocked and sickened. They took him away in the back of a police car and I was left alone. I picked up my clothes and other things and put it all back into my pack.  Then I walked the half-mile to the next highway entrance, put my pack down, sat on it and sobbed. I had never been so scared in my life... the freedom they so crudely and completely took from me... and it was the 4th of July.

In 1995, I got divorced. The legal act was completed the following year. But the conversation about ending our marriage, and the actual ending of our marriage, that was on July 4th. It was scary but liberating.

I look at the 4th of July differently now.


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