walking to Washington DC?


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

Walking to Washington. I did it once before-nearly,when my grandfather in Pottstown (Pennsylvania) died back in 1970 or 71. Lost track.

I hitch-hiked much of the way. Those days it was easy to stand along the roadside and stick the thumb out to catch a ride.

I remember sleeping the first night under an over pass on the interstate. In those days I-95 was sporadic and often the road went through detours . It was not easy travel. The only food I remember eating was raw corn that I picked across a fence in a field along the highway. I remember how thrilled I was years later to learn that Jesus and His disciples did the same thing-gleaning the corn from a field to eat.

I was not allowed to attend the funeral. I arrived at my parents in the suburbs of DC and was expecting to continue to Pottstown to attend Pop-Pop’s funeral. My father refused to take me to Pottstown.

It is a long way by foot and thumb. Now a day that mode of transport is mostly forgotten. I can tell you that the style of it never will.

I want to do it again! I have had the thought in my head for a couple of years. Florida once had a governor that walked from one end of the state to the other to meet voters and earn their respect. It worked-they sent Lawton Chiles to head the state and further on to Washington DC. Why did he walk? To gain attention…they called him ” Walkin’ Lawton “!

I’m not running for any political offices. I am not in that mode of understanding. Politicians give enough of not much to give me that impression. Maybe it is just me-and maybe I need to try to believe one more time.  I do know that if one raises enough hell about something they are listened to a little more carefully. For example-the road out in front of my place. A two mile stretch which is also on a county line. Not one of the counties took responsibility for the road-and over the years it became crowded and worse to drive than any road in Daktari. We raised our voices as a community and the elected could not help hearing us. The road is paved.


I am having a difficult time writing this. My emotions are shaky much because of the holiday seasons coming up-and my nightmares are beating me lately. I recently was interviewed by a pair of journalists who are compiling the stories of other survivors-survivors of  ‘military sexual trauma’ (MST) and the duration of the two days telling my story have added to the weakness I experience around this time of year.

My holiday in 1969 was when my sexual trauma took place. To be more specific-it was New Years Eve 69-70-it was around 0200,22 hours before the new year began.

The things that took place during that time altered my life forever. For many years I thought I was the only one it ever happened to-but learned what happened to me has happened to others…enough others that it is called MST.

All the series of pages written in this journal explain many things about my life as a male survivor of sexual trauma-rape! I also explain that the reason I came to write all of this is because after 35 years of silence my story came to the attention of our local VA hospital. There I began treatment for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Eventually I was told to apply for veterans benefits- a way of closure and validation.

The man I was required to appeal to made some concerning remarks. They were not only concerning-they were hurtful. This man was to represent me as an advocate regarding something in my life so tattooed in my soul from the pain of what happened in 1969-70,and he was a bigot. I told this person about being raped and he made jocular comments and expected me to see the humor. He could not be in charge of something so serious to me-he had no education and the responsibility of caring for a rape survivor had no business being in his control.

I am nearly tempted from the fatigue of writing to members of Congress and Senators regarding the need for changes in how veterans suffering from MST are treated in respect to the other veterans who have received honorable injuries in the line of duty. Now knowing what I have learned-there are thousands of MST survivors,many who do not know of the rights they have,many who are too frightened to find out. I am nearly tempted to begin a walk towards Washington DC to raise awareness of the crime of MST and the fact that survivors have had their rights violated by the bigotry of the advocates placed to represent them.

I will try to continue this later…

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