I want to start by taking a moment to truly thank you all for taking time from your evening to be here with us tonight at “Veteran’s Voices: A Green Light, Ghost Light” event. Your willingness to give us your time is so much more meaningful than repeating an empty phrase. I want you all to think of something for me. I want you to think of an animal, cats in particular. Now, I want you to think about the phrase “cats have nine lives”. Read more
Many PCVI veterans spoke at the Veteran Voices event put on by Trinity Rep on November 6, 2021. This event was all about connecting with the community through art and their writing. This is the full recording of that event. Read more
Being the oldest of five children comes with a set of responsibilities. Dad being a traveling salesman and away from home Monday through Friday on most weeks has taught you the management skills required by a large family. If you reflect back to 1949 when mom had cancer, you were eight years old and had to become involved in the upbringing of your 6 and 3-year-old brothers. You by default learned a lot about what it means to be a member of the family but felt cheated because you were not doing the things that other friends were doing. And then your sisters were born adding to the responsibilities. Read more
Hello “Iron Mike!” I thought that you might get a kick out of that. I know that Mr. Garabedian doesn’t call you that anymore, but I remember how it made you feel when you were four, five, and six years old. Whenever the old man from across the road saw you coming, he would gleefully sing out “Iron Mike,” in a deep laughing voice that echoed from the shade of his old rickety front porch. “Iron Mike,” it was music to your ears. Those simple words had superhero written all over them and there was no doubt in your mind that Mr. Garabedian saw you, just as you were seeing yourself. In some roundabout way you took ownership of what “Iron Mike" suggested, and it provoked a kind of confidence that allowed you to step out of what is considered normal and comfortable, a little something that kept you reaching for an itch that you just couldn’t reach. Read more
It is April of 1970. Welcome home and congrats on your making it back home from Vietnam. What a journey! You left home a little over a year ago not knowing what was in store for you or how you would react to it. You knew that you were prepared in terms of training to do your job but weren’t sure about whether you would do the right things when called upon in a crisis. As it turned out, you did what was necessary when needed and maybe just a little bit more. Read more
The poem "The Returned" by Jeremy Bergantini. Read more
The poem "Xenophobic States of America" by Jeremy Bergantini. Read more
The poem "Fight or Fall (Modern Soldier)" by Jeremy Bergantini. Read more
Dad had a distinguished military service in the 774th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Patton’s Third Army for which he was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Dad regaled us with his war stories, but his stories did not glamorize the service or his service. Most times he narrated self-deprecating fables to impress his impressionable two sons of the badness of mankind, the horrors of battle, and the importance of individual salvation – practically and metaphysically. The Third Army has been recognized as performing superhuman feats roaring across France and Germany to save Allies from a defeat at the Battle of the Bulge - superhuman because the American soldiers rallied themselves every day for over nine months of battle to liberate captive towns from another vision of superhumanity. Thereafter, I learned that General Patton also linked fear, battle, discipline and self-respect. “No sane man is unafraid in battle.” Read more
When I arrived in South Vietnam in May of 1969, I was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group which was headquartered in Nha Trang, a city located in Khanh Hoa Province on the South China Sea. This lively and attractive coastal resort city then, as now, was known for its beaches, diving sites, and offshore islands. Unfortunately for me, I was not there to sightsee and didn’t really get to experience the sights and sounds of that well known vacation spot. Read more
Six months ago, I was about to turn 80, or as my family likes to call this birthday a decade transition. My youngest sister, who hosted my mother's 80th birthday celebration wanted to know what I was going to do about mine. My children wanted to know if there was anything I would like on my birthday. Normally, the family would have a party with all the brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren, and aunts and uncles with the number approaching 35 or 40 people. I am the oldest family member and the only person other than my wife who would be at a party who had one vaccination shot with the second one scheduled. COVID had changed a lot of family gatherings, and this would be no exception. Read more
The fact is my personal story does not matter. Tonight, is not about me, it is about each and every person here. It is about our instructors and liaisons, our fellow classmates and fallen veterans that are not here tonight. But also, tonight is about YOU. Read more
I would like to tell you a war story, one from someone who’s never set foot in a warzone. It is not a story about a battlefield, nor is even from my time in the service. It is a story about my summer vacation, and it is about the Weight of war. It is a heavy story, yes, but I’d like to share it with you, and ask that you help me carry it. Read more
My name is omni, which, in the original Latin, means ‘all.’Allow me to entertain you by sharing ‘the truth’ about ‘the lie.’ Read more
After breakfast I went back to the barracks and took that t-shirt off immediately. I have never worn that T-shirt since that day. I consider the Tee shirt to be as sacred as the Medal of Honor itself especially after I researched 2Lt. John P. Bobo Read more
One year ago, I accepted an invitation to the graduation ceremony of the Providence Clemente Veterans Initiative. As each graduate spoke, I was in awe of what PCVI meant to them. What caught my attention was the ease of connecting their military experiences with different aspects of the curriculum, the humanities. I was on the edge of my seat, grasping onto every single word as they expressed their gratitude for this course. Read more
Last month I was in Williamsburg, VA with my family. I wanted to see the Virginia War Museum and what was remaining of the civil war monuments. While in the museum I fell and ended up on the marble floor. My son-in-law and the museum staff eventually got me in a wheelchair and out to my car, but I soon realized that I couldn’t communicate with the lower part of my left leg. At the emergency room, it was determined that my injury was the result of a catastrophic failure of the quadricep tendon of my left leg. I went through surgery. The day after I was feeling out of sorts and complaining of chest pains and it was determined that I had a heart attack. Read more
Beirut is a beautiful city, a mixture of the new, the old, and the ancient. It has been referred to as the “Paris of the Middle East,” with beautiful beaches, modern hotels, universities, and businesses to support tourism. Cedar forests surround the city and lead to majestic mountains just an hour, or two, drive from the beaches. The great cedar forests are intertwined in Lebanon’s persona, and a single cedar tree is the centerpiece of the Lebanese flag. The mountains are home for skiing and other activities during the winter months. The neighboring city of Byblos has been continuously occupied for 7000 years; and considered one of the birthplaces of humanity. Life has endured throughout the cycles of violence in the country’s long history. Read more
“Welcome to IHOP, how many in your party?” asks the older woman at the counter as she ushers in the all-night partiers looking to sober up, early risers looking for a caffeine fix and families looking for a meal after a long flight. Each time the door opens the sounds of traffic is mixed with the sounds of planes landing and taking off from the airport, not a quarter of a mile away. I cannot seem to hear anything but the blood swelling my veins. The thump, thump, thump of my heart is getting louder as my scope of vision is narrowing. I try to revert back to my training to slow my breathing and open up my field of vision; I know that if this was taking place in a combat zone this could be deadly, but this isn’t a combat zone, this is at home in IHOP on a peaceful Sunday morning. Read more
Taking the first step, I find my vision and look to the right. Rows of canvas align perfectly with the walkway parting the gravel. My bag bangs against the outside of my knee as I make my way forward. My hair wet, tightly wrapped above my collar. The cool streams of water sliding down my neck. The reflection of ripples in the distance pulls me forward. Memories of my past telling me to pick my feet up. Moving with a type of purpose that I can make up if confronted; I know that people are always watching. Read more
The Providence Clemente Veterans’ Initiative encourages and accepts applications from all veterans, regardless of race, gender identity, service years, deployment history, disability status, or discharge status. The course is free and seeks to serve veterans who are challenged by their transition from soldier to civilian, and who are looking for an engaged community of peers to explore great moments of history, art, philosophy and literature.
For those who aspire to attend college in the future, the Providence Clemente Veterans’ Initiative also offers an opportunity to experience a college classroom and earn transferable college credits at no cost, and without using any VA benefits. All books and instructional materials are provided free to participants.
You can read more about Providence CVI in this article in the Providence Journal. You can meet Providence CVI graduate and discussion facilitator Sarah Bregler in this profile on our website and learn about the program’s move to virtual learning here. You can hear Sarah and fellow graduate Tyrone Smith talk about the program on Trinity Rep’s YouTube show, Your Half Hour Call. Providence CVI was recently awarded the Innovation in the Humanities Award by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.
Now accepting students for Spring 2022. Classes begin mid-January.
Classes will meet via Zoom on Monday/Thursday evenings from 6pm to 8pm. Classes will be via Zoom until we are able to resume classes in our classroom at 46 Aborn Street.
Read what veterans are saying about this extraordinary program!
Thank you for applying to the Clemente Veterans’ Initiative in Providence!