May 27, 2021
Each Memorial Day, our thoughts turn to all the men and women who have died serving our country in the military, both during peacetime and during war. It is a time when individually and as families and as a nation we reflect on the nature of war and the significance of military service, and to help in our reflection, we welcome Geronimo Whitaker and Peter Lucier to our program. Our guests are veterans of two very different wars fought in very different times, one as an Army foot soldier in Vietnam and the other as a Marine in Afghanistan, but each has known the violence, the loneliness, and the lasting effects of war, and in that sense, they also share a common bond.
We offer our special appreciation to Garett Reppenhagen, Executive Director of Veterans for Peace, and Pat Alviso, Executive Director of Military Families Speak Out, for their assistance in arranging for our guests on this podcast.
Geronimo was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1949 into a career military family. His father, James A. Whitaker, was in the US Army Air Force and served as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. Growing up on military bases all around the world gave Geronimo a perspective of equality among people. When he enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War, he was continuing a long tradition among his family members of service in the military. During his Army enlistment, he served as an Infantry Squad leader/Non-Commissioned officer in the 1st Cavalry Division, Airmobile, Republic of Vietnam, 1971.
Today, Geronimo describes himself as an artist, writer, and storyteller, especially of traditional African and Afro-American folk tales, as well as a drummer, guitarist, song writer and singer. He is familiar with theater as both an actor and a director, and has been a playwright, novelist and military journalist, as well as a martial artist, a Licensed Physical Therapist and an instructor in the Healing Arts. Geronimo is a Nationally Certified “B Level” AYSO Youth Soccer Coach, an entrepreneur and a world traveler.
Geronimo lives in Edmonds, Washington with his wife, surrounded by grandchildren and family. His three sons and newest grandbaby live in the Bay area of CA, and in Brooklyn NY.
Born in St. Louis, raised in
Dallas, Peter moved back to St. Louis in 2004. In 2008 he graduated
from Saint Louis University High School, a Jesuit school in the
city of St. Louis. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2008. From
2009-2011 he served in a Fleet Anti-Terrorism and Security Team
(FAST) platoon, deploying to Guantanamo Bay, Spain, and Bahrain.
From 2011-2013 he was a scout with 1st Light
Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in Camp Pendleton, deploying to
Afghanistan in 2011. He was honorably discharged from active duty
as a corporal in 2013.
Peter attended Montana State University where he graduated with an undergraduate degree in political science in 2018. His writing career began in 2015 when he joined a group of former junior enlisted writers who contributed to Tom Rick’s Best Defense blog. His writing has since appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, America Magazine, US Catholic, and many more publications. He primarily writes about military and veteran issues, especially faith and military service.
His 2017 piece, “Not Your Messiah,” examines how veterans fulfill a dual messianic role in American civil religion – sacrificial lambs and high priests of civic holidays. His 2019 piece for America Magazine looked at the Catholic ritual of penance as a mechanism for healing the wounds of war. He has also written for the Washington Post on how to respond to the lies of war, as a Catholic, and in response to the Afghanistan Papers.
Lucier currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri where he continues to write, and is a law student at St. Louis University.
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People of Faith for Justice is a 501 (c )(3) non-profit organization.
The People of Faith for Justice Podcast is produced and edited by Jeff Manildi
Music for the People of Faith for Justice Podcast is provided by Andrew Gorman