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Sunday, August 17, 2014
Occupy Wall Street - Navy Veteran Expresses His Support
Originally Published on forbes.com on October 1st,2011
If your parents are among the founders of the Jersey City branch of Students for a Democratic Society, what can you possibly do to rebel ? Chris Dwyer decided to enlist in the United States Navy and after finishing up there, he went on to get anMBA. Chris’s father the late Reverend Hank Dwyer, whose legacy includes St. Peter’s Haven, was the nicest guy that I have ever known. His mother Marianne Reilly Dwyer, my first cousin, is absolutely the coolest person I have ever known. Chris has stopped in at Libery Park and I have asked him to give me his impressions as a guest post:
“I’ve been supporting #occupywallstreet since its inception; only financially, because with the job I have, getting arrested would put a quick end to my career. But, since I work a few blocks from Liberty Square, I thought it would be silly not to carry down a few sundries they said they needed, plus send them some pizza. That first week, I didn’t know it would last. But I knew if they made it to the weekend, they would hit a critical mass, and the media coverage would build from there. As of this writing, that’s pretty much come to pass.
The question I’ve heard most people ask is “why”. Why are these people there? What are they protesting? I guess that makes sense; the occupation is modeled after what many of us breathlessly watched take place in Egypt earlier this year, and their movement coalesced pretty quickly into “Mubarak Out.” It was really simple to see what those brave souls wanted, which gave the movement an easy to follow narrative, complete with beginning, middle and end. It had drama and pathos, casts of characters, villains and heroes. Were it that easy here, few would be asking those questions. Unfortunately, it’s not.
I won’t pretend to speak for anyone but myself, but the reason I support #occupywallstreet is that the greed of a few has taken over the democratic process, the economy and the social fabric of my country. This phenomenon manifests itself in so many ways and is so pervasive that a single, solitary cause just doesn’t make sense. They could say “we’re sitting here until Corporate Personhood is no longer the law of the land,” and they could achieve that, and that would help. But that wouldn’t help the thousands upon thousands of people who are sitting in jails for relatively minor offenses because the prison system has been largely privatized, making it profitable to put people in jail for long periods of time. That wouldn’t help the large immigrant population, forced to choose between inhumane working conditions with illegally small wages and deportation because it’s more profitable to keep a class of worker scared by draconian policy that’s enthusiastically voted in by a segment of the populace that’s been conditioned to think of those workers as “other”. And it wouldn’t help the vast majority of salary-earners in this country, kept off-balance by the lack of any social safety net, staggeringstudent loan debt, and a market for their services which is persistently skewed toward employers because it’s easier to pay people less money for their work if they’re afraid for their families’ basic needs. And that’s a small sample of the social and political problems caused by unchecked greed.
On the fifth day of the occupation, occupywallst.org posted a list of demands that ranged from “ending the modern gilded age” to “ending American imperialism.” Each of these demands was listed, rather mockingly, as their “one demand.” From my vantage, this best displays the vastness of the problem, and the inherent laziness of the question “what do you want?” The problems are too many to articulate concisely. But the problems are very real, and left unaddressed they will cause economic hardship and civil unrest on a much wider scale. I love my country, and I don’t want to see this happen. That’s why I support #occupywallstreet.“
Although they don’t mention it, they were obviously referring to my brother Electronic Technician 2nd Class Robert Reilly of the USS Randolph, a WWII attack carrier retasked to hunt Soviet submarines. At the age of 25 after recovering two Mercury astronauts and keeping the Russian missiles out of Cuba he had to play the father role to a difficult 13 year old when our father died in 1965.
Young Chris was also a bane to Soviet submarines. As a sonarman on a Spruance class destroyer he could tell his officers what the Soviet crews had for breakfast. Chris had a great uncle, not related to me, who was part of a naval gun crew on a WWII merchant ship. That’s more of less the sum total of the family’s naval tradition.