My once forgotten memory of napalm goes back to 1966. I was young intelligence officer for a fighter squadron on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam. My commanding officer thought I would be a better Intelligence officer if I flew on some missions in the back seat of the F4. My Memory of napalm came from one of these missions. Read more
I joined the Marine Corps as an infantryman in 2005. I consider my time in the corps as positive, but it comes with some caveats. Let me explain. Read more
For the first time in many years, I see hope where only humiliation and doubt existed. Though the discovery of struggles and perseverance depicted in the written word, art and the interpretation of both, I have discovered a way to channel the doubt and grief that often cloud my vision. I am thankful that PCVI has provided the backdrop for learning not only the humanities but also the similarities in experiences that we, the scholars, share as the proud veterans, that we truly are. Read more
Ever since my arrival in Vietnam in late August 1969 I had been in the base camp at Pleiku serving in a variety of positions until an ear infection cleared up. The ear infection began when I was home on leave in July and had continued even after I was sent to Jungle School in Panama. It was a middle ear infection that left me with no sense of balance. Eventually it started to clear up and I was assigned as the Reaction Platoon Leader in base camp. Read more
Prior to taking this PCVI humanities class I had preconceived notions about a soldier’s ethical expectations and accountability during combat. Initially I had concluded that everyone who participated in the My Lai massacre was guilty of the most egregious of crimes. After hearing and reading some deeply personal accounts and getting a better idea of the psychological trauma that is involved in the shitty business of combat, I no longer know what to think. I’ve compiled the absurdity from the assignments that I read, experiences that were shared and the clips that I watched throughout this class, and this is my reaction to all of that. Read more
“Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris.” In 1963, in high school Latin class I read that opening line of the Aeneid by Virgil. Like the Iliad and Odyssey, there was a constant theme of violence as the Roman Empire imposed civilization and peace on others – at incredible human cost. Read more
So I am in the Coast Guard reserve as a Boatswain Mate 3rd Class (E4) stationed at CG Station Point Judith, RI. I had volunteered to do my two weeks active duty aboard a Coast Guard Cutter out of Woods Hole, MA. Something I had been trying to do for several years and finally got ... Read more
How to "cover" or describe the rocket attack? - For me....for _______? Read more
“Living simply, not alone, roots, rocks, trees and stone. Wondering often, suffering some. It never would abate until it was done.” When I joined the USPS in 1983 I was elated to have landed a highly sought after place of employment. After one year of marriage my wife and I had packed up our meager ... Read more
Life is not two dimensional. The line exercise forced me to think about what has happened to me in the last 80 years. I realized that there is a multi-dimensional aspect to one’s life line. There are colors, textures, amplitude, brightness, and emotions that can be illustrated. I remembered two photographs that I had taken ... Read more
Jacques Yves Cousteau “When I see a dolphin, I know it’s just as smart as I am. …If I could get any animal it would be a dolphin. I want one so bad. Me and my mom went swimming with dolphins and I was like, ‘How do we get one of those?’ and she was like, ... Read more
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
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.
Providence CVI was recently awarded the Innovation in the Humanities Award by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.
Now accepting students for Fall 2022. Classes begin mid-September.
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!