Why Do We Subject Ourselves To The Confusing, Frustrating Dating World?

   The dating world….
   It’s a mysterious world involving happiness, joy, consternation, pain, sorrow, heartbreak, you name it. For some, finding people to go on dates with is easy while for others it is a grinding, ongoing battle that keeps resulting in rejection, disappointment, heartbreak, and pain. And for many, it’s probably a combination.
   So why do so many of us keep subjecting ourselves to the war that trying to find someone to date often entails?
   The reasons can be certainly vary from person to person. But a big one for many of us is that we don’t want to spend our lives alone. It can get old having no one to come home to after a long, busy day. No one else is there to tell a funny story to about something that happened at work or to commiserate with about some frustrating event that occurred. No one to snuggle with while watching a good movie at night, no one to laugh or cry with, and no one to cuddle with in that lonely bed. When this state of affairs goes on day after day, night after night for weeks, months, or years, it can be terribly painful. It’s something many people fear.
   So we wade into the strange, uncertain world of dating. And how that works out varies from person to person. Some people have an easier time finding dates than others. Over 10 years ago, at the place where I worked at the time, was a fellow employee who had gotten out of a bad relationship. After taking a break from the romantic world, she decided to try a dating site. She was a straight, nice, attractive young woman, and I figured a lot of people would be interested in her. At the time, I had already been on dating sites for several years without success (dates were rare and went nowhere). In less than a month, she had met a guy she really liked. They ended up getting married, and all these years later, they’re still together with several kids. Whereas, despite being on multiple dating sites and Meetup groups, I still haven’t found anyone. Dates continue to be rare and go nowhere.
   Numerous factors come into play when it comes to the dating world and trying to find someone special. Personality, physical appearance, interests, how people see you, location, and so on. Some people are quite popular in the dating world while others are not. The truth is that I am in the latter category. I’m one of those individuals whom people see as too different. I’m not into watching sports and have never been into drinking. My being bisexual+ turns most people off very quickly despite the fact I’d be faithful and monogamous. The result is that I haven’t had much success in the dating world and will likely always be alone.
   While finding someone special is something most people want, not everyone will succeed in this quest. That is the cold, hard reality. And for those who do find someone special, it won’t be perfect and will require work. You may be lucky with your relationship lasting the rest of your days, or it may be good for a while but end in separation and/or divorce. Whatever the situation, people need to keep their chin up. There are many facets to life, and you can have a productive, satisfying life even if you don’t find romantic love (or you lose it). Remember the things that bring you joy. On your own, you can still enjoy a good movie or read a fun, interesting book. You can take that trip to some amazing place without a significant other. Perhaps you have friends to interact and connect with. The point is that whether you have success in the dating world or not, don’t let it totally consume you. Whether you find someone or not, you can still have a good life.

I Like DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow. Yes, I Do!

7-17-22
   I really like the TV show DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
   Yes, you heard me right.
   You’re probably wondering why. Is it a deep, thought-provoking show? No. Absolutely not. Is it addressing contemporary problems plaguing society today? Nope. So why do I enjoy it you might wonder. Well, let me tell you. It’s a fun, entertaining show that allows you to escape your troubles for a little while and also has surprisingly good queer representation. Yep, it does.
   I don’t want to give away plot lines because this show lasted for 7 seasons. The general premise is that a misfit group of gifted individuals with a variety of abilities and powers was organized by a time traveler who had stolen a time ship called the Waverider. Together, they try to fix aberrations in time with the help of Gideon, the Waverider’s powerful AI computer. The show is an entertaining mixture of action and comedy. It can be campy in places and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s not trying to be deep. And frankly, this combination makes it quite fun, entertaining, and endearing. Another aspect which makes it really enjoyable is how they often screw up lol. They make mistakes. These are not perfect superheroes. Sometimes they are total screw-ups, yet somehow or another, they find a way to get the job done.
   Another thing that makes it a really good show is its strong, positive queer representation. There are multiple important regular characters in the show who are queer, and refreshingly, their being LGBTQ is not a big deal and is totally accepted by the rest of the crew. For example, Sara Lance and Constantine are openly bisexual+, and in the last couple of seasons, Sara Lance has been in a monogamous romantic relationship with another important female character in the show. As a matter of fact, in addition to their relationship being completely normal to the rest of the crew, it’s also been included into some of the show’s plot lines.
   So, is DC’s Legends of Tomorrow going to win Golden Globe Awards? No.
   But is it a fun, entertaining show that will allow you to escape your worries for a little while and also includes strong queer representation? Absolutely yes!
   You can catch DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on Amazon Prime and Netflix.

Too Many Movies Use Unfair, Negative Tropes About Bisexual+ Individuals

   I’m bisexual+ and genderfluid. And you know what: I’m sick of unfair, negative stereotypes that are still so pervasive these days. It’s got to stop.
   I was watching a movie about 2 female best friends, one straight and one gay, who are extremely close and in each other’s lives all the time. Texting, hanging out, laughing, telling each other everything, you get the picture. Their relationship changes when the straight one gets in a serious relationship with a man. She doesn’t have as much time for her best friend. So far, good story with a very relatable plot and sympathetic characters. Things change with time, especially when people get into serious, long term relationships. It affects other relationships in both partners’ lives.
   My problem with the movie comes when the gay friend is dumped by a woman (whom she’s been dating). The girlfriend in question is leaving her for a man and because of this, she is treated as confused, possibly a cheater, etc. The gay friend tells her straight friend that she’ll be more careful in the future to date women who are more sure of their being gay (I’m paraphrasing but that was the message). I stopped watching it at this point because it’s unfair, negative tropes like this that contribute to the ignorance and intolerance so many people hold with regards to bi+ individuals. Bisexual+ people can be just as faithful as anyone else. But too many straight and gay people think of us bi+ as a bunch of confused, lying cheaters. And that’s not fair. Straight and gay individuals can be lying cheaters, but people don’t automatically assume that all of them are, whereas, far too many people assume such unfair notions when they realize a person is bi+. It’s not right. It’s why so many bi+ suffer in the closet afraid of what will happen if their secret sexuality is discovered. It’s also why many of us bi+ find dating brutally hard. It’s a significant factor in why I’m still alone with dates being extremely rare (and going nowhere when they occur).
   Things need to change. People need to open their minds. Bisexual+ people are not a bunch of confused, lying cheaters. Are there some who cheat? Sure there are, just like there are straight and gay individuals who cheat. But that does not mean the entire community is a bunch of cheaters. Bisexual+ people can be just as faithful as anyone else. It’s time society accepts that.

Republicans Have Gone Too Far.

July 3, 2022
   Republicans have gone too far. This fact is plain as day.
   Look at what they’re doing. I mean take a good, hard look. They are taking away female reproductive rights from millions of women, are pushing anti-LGBTQ laws in numerous states (which will increase the number of LGBTQ suicides, especially among LGBTQ youth), have gutted the EPA’s ability to properly regulate power plant pollution (which will in turn worsen Human Caused Climate Change), and are literally undermining American democracy by promoting Trump’s lies about the 2020 election and pushing new voter laws that make it more difficult for millions of Americans to vote (especially those who are likely to vote for Democrats).
   Think about what I’ve just said. It’s all true. Republicans are literally doing this. And what’s even scarier is that they are not done. Despite the fact that the majority of Americans support same gender marriage (recent polls show support at over 70%), there is a serious risk that Republicans are going to try overturn the Obergefell vs Hodges ruling to allow Republican states to ban same gender marriage. This would create a situation where some states would ban same gender marriage while others would support it. First and foremost, consenting adults should be able to marry other consenting adults whatever their gender. Banning same gender marriage is morally and ethically wrong. In addition, having same gender marriage banned in some the states would create all sorts of confusion in terms of taxes, insurance coverage, hospital stays/medical decisions (as to who is considered family), and more.
   Look at what is happening in terms of abortion rights with Roe vs Wade being overturned. We are quickly heading towards a situation where abortion will be banned (or severely limited) in roughly half the states while allowed in the other half. Many of the bans won’t even allow an early abortion in cases of rape. Think about this last part. A woman who has been brutally raped isn’t even allowed to have a morning after pill just in case. And these abortion bans in Republican states will particularly hit minorities and the poor very hard because many will not have the time and resources to travel to a state where abortion is legal. And what’s even scarier is that despite the fact that polls show that most Americans are in favor of a woman’s right to choose, there is a very strong chance that Republicans will ban abortion nationwide if they gain enough control over both Chambers of Congress and the White House.
   Republicans have gone too far. They are trying to legislate their own personal beliefs (that are often coming from their personal religious beliefs) upon the entire population even when the majority of that population disagrees with them. Think about that. For example, conservative Republicans’ hatred of women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights are prime examples because they see these things as sinful. In other words, socially conservative Republicans are essentially trying to pass laws based on the their own personal religious beliefs that affect the entire population. This is made even more disturbing when you consider that most Americans disagree with conservatives on these issues. Some Republicans even want to restrict access to contraceptives! Think about that one.
   The brutal reality is that we can’t afford Republican control over governments these days (local, state, or federal) because they are going too far as they try to legislate things (many of which come from their personal religious beliefs) upon the entire population even when the majority disagrees with them. They are literally attacking the rights of millions upon millions of people (such as with anti-LGBTQ laws and abortion bans) that will increase the suffering of many and will lead to a significantly increased number of tragic, unnecessary deaths (like from suicide of LGBTQ youth).
   People need to speak up and stand against what Republicans are trying to do right now. And even more importantly, people need to vote! Vote in overwhelming numbers against Republicans because we can’t afford Republican control over governments these days.

Too Many People Are Hurting Due To A Lack Of Acceptance From Much Of Society.

   Hey there folks. I’d like to talk about something that’s very important which many people don’t realize. The fact is that there are a great number of LGBTQ people who are hurting, isolated, and alone because too many members of the Straight and Gay / Lesbian Communities don’t fully accept us. And this needs to change. It’s the 21st century for crying out loud.
   Who am I talking about you may wonder. It’s actually a lot more people than you may think. Bisexual+, Genderfluid, Genderqueer, Nonbinary, Transgender, Asexual, Intersex, and others (BTIA+ for short) often feel like we’re not fully accepted by most of society so that far too often, we end up very isolated and alone.
   Many people fear, and even ostracize, individuals whom they see as too different. Often, they assume the worst. That somehow we must be confused and untrustworthy. Or that we’re just plain too weird. The result is that they don’t fully accept us.
   The consequences are that too many BTIA+ people end up feeling like we don’t belong anywhere and that people don’t want us. It makes finding true friends incredibly difficult and often dating becomes virtually impossible, despite the fact that we can be just as faithful and monogamous as anyone else and that we want love too. Unfortunately, too many of us are having to face the brutal reality that we are probably going to be alone for the rest of our lives.
   Things need to change.
   The Straight and Gay / Lesbian Communities as a whole need to open their minds and their hearts. BTIA+ people deserve acceptance and a chance. Don’t automatically reject us because of who we are. Try to open your minds and get to know us. We also enjoy the same interests and activities that you do, whether it’s movies, TV shows, and art or good food, travel, and the outdoors. Plus, diversity should be celebrated, not feared.
   We are people too.
   We have hopes and dreams.
   We want to have happy productive lives like everyone else.
   All we are asking for is a chance.
   If everyone strove to be kind, considerate, tolerant, open-minded, and accepting, imagine how wonderful and magical the world could be for everyone.

Loneliness Is Much More Common Than Many People Realize Or Want To Admit

  Loneliness is tough and much more common the most people realize. It can be painful, exhausting, heartbreaking, and potentially devastating, especially when we let it consume us. At times, it can feel hopeless, overwhelming, and has the potential to increase the risk of mental and physical health problems.
   Anyone is susceptible, from individuals with lots of people around them to others who are physically isolated.  All ages, genders, sexualities, races… No one is immune.
   Kinda scary isn’t it.
   I know all about loneliness because I’ve been living with it for many years. I understand the pain and challenges. Seeing other people have significant others and numerous close friends while I’m on my own.
   As to why loneliness occurs, that is complicated and varies from person to person with numerous factors potentially coming into play. Physical isolation, lack of common interests, being different from people in one’s environment, depression, social anxiety, shyness, and low interpersonal communication skills are a few examples.
   Age can play a role as well. Studies have shown that for most individuals over 30, the number of friends they have decreases. This is probably connected to people getting into long-term relationships, starting families, dealing with careers, and so on. As a result, some of the friendships they had from before drift away. As to the established friendships that continue, there may be changes such as not seeing each other quite as often because for many individuals, their significant others and families have become their main source of social interaction. The result is that most people over 30 aren’t particularly looking for new friends. From their perspective, they’re too busy or don’t need them. So for individuals who are lonely and searching for new friends, finding them becomes even more difficult.
   Loneliness can be terribly challenging to deal with, but we should work hard at not letting it consume us. We must learn to control it, not let it control us.
   Believe in yourself, even at the most difficult moments. Remember that you can rely on yourself no matter what. I know, it can be brutal at times, but never give up on you.
   Stay open to the possibility of connecting with someone because after being hurt so much and so often, it can be easy to automatically shut people out to try to protect ourselves from further disappointments, letdowns, rejections, and crushed hopes. The problem with shutting people out is that it can also isolate us even more and prevent us from establishing contact and potential relationships with others. 
   So be open to meeting people. Don’t automatically rule out letting them in. If they hurt you, don’t let it bring you down. I know it can be frustrating and terribly painful, especially when you don’t have any close friends and attempts to find one seem to keep failing. Still, metaphorically speaking: Get back up, brush yourself off, and keep moving forward.
   Another thing is to try to find happiness in yourself. There is truth to the idea of love and have faith in yourself.
   Believe in you! Doing so will help make life more enjoyable and also increase the possibility of perhaps connecting with others. And if you don’t find someone to connect with anytime soon, you’ll still have you!
   Do things you enjoy, even if you are doing them on your own. Use your imagination because there, you can experience, explore, and do whatever you want.
   And don’t be afraid to talk to a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. There is absolutely no shame in doing so, and it may help you cope with your circumstances a whole lot better.
   And please, never give up!
   Remember that you can always rely on yourself and be your own best friend!

Why Is There So Much Prejudice Against The LGBTQ Community? Why?

   Why is there still so much prejudice against the LGBTQ (Queer) Community?
   Why?
   LGBTQ people have been around for the entire history of humanity, and LGBTQ behavior is also seen in other animal species.
   So where did all this prejudice and hate come from?
   The answer isn’t simple.
   Numerous factors are involved in creating intolerance and prejudice because I don’t think people are born that way.
    Lack of understanding is a big one. Many people don’t understand what it means to be LGBTQ. They don’t know the challenges and pain many LGBTQs face on a regular basis. They don’t seem to grasp that being Queer is part of who a person is and cannot just be switched off (and shouldn’t be switched off). There is nothing wrong with being LGBTQ. Being LGBTQ can and should be a wonderful thing.
   Now, add on influences from people, organizations, schools, churches, leaders, family, and friends. If many of those  surrounding influences are prejudiced themselves, that can affect a person’s thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors, especially if the individual already has a lack of understanding about the LGBTQ Community. Think about it. Imagine an individual who doesn’t really understand the LGBTQ Community and may have some insecurities and misconceptions about the subject. Now, picture a scenario where many of the important people in this person’s life don’t get the Queer Community either and often make derogatory jokes at the expense of LGBTQs. This often encourages and can worsen the individual’s intolerant views and behaviors.
   Something else to keep in mind is how intolerance and prejudice can be insidious so that individuals frequently don’t recognize that they are prejudiced themselves. Of course, there are other people who know they themselves are but have so much hate that they don’t care. Either way, they are harming innocent people.
   Such hurt can manifest in many ways. It can occur when people make fun of someone just because that person is LGBTQ. Or when an organization refuses to help because those in need are Queer.  Another example is how many people categorically refuse to date someone they would be interested in otherwise just because that person is LGBTQ (Bisexual+, Non-binary, and Transgender individuals are frequently the victims of this).
   In early 2020, Tennessee signed into law new regulations that allow religious based adoption agencies to automatically reject prospective parents just because they are LGBTQ.  This is legalized discrimination. And now there are multiple “don’t say gay” laws as well as other legislation targeting the Transgender Community being pushed in states around the country.
   All this prejudice against the LGBTQ Community needs to change.
   Everyone should take a good hard look at themselves, their views, and the factors driving those views. All should educate themselves to better understand other people, including those who are different.
  It’s the 21st Century! Time for people to open their minds and let go of the intolerance and prejudice pervading society these days.
  It’s time…

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/most-lgbtq-americans-experience-harassment-discrimination-harvard-study-finds-n823876 https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/12/19/anti-lgbt-discrimination-has-huge-human-toll-research-proves-it/ https://www.thedailybeast.com/are-bisexuals-shut-out-of-the-lgbt-club

The True Story Of A Brave Dog In The Civil War, Sallie Ann Jarrett

   I’m going to tell you a story…
   A true story about a dog named Sallie Ann Jarrett.
   But we have to go back in time. The year is 1861. A Union regiment, the 11th Pennsylvania, had recently been organized and was training for the American Civil War.
   Being early in the conflict, local civilians would come out to watch the new soldiers march, drill, and train. Once such individual was an attractive, young woman named Sallie Ann. As you can imagine, the soldiers liked it when Sallie Ann stopped by.
   Well, one day, someone arrived with a basket. Inside the basket was a little, female pit bull puppy who was presented to the regiment as a gift.
   The soldiers named her Sallie Ann Jarrett after the popular young woman they liked and their original commanding officer, Colonel Phaon Jarrett.
   Little Sallie Ann was quite popular with the troops with her playful exuberance. Early on she would wind her way through the soldiers as they marched, but then she learned to join the commanding officer at the head of the column.
   In 1862, the regiment, under the command of Colonel Richard Coulter, headed south to join the war for real.
   And Sallie Ann went with them.
   The 11th Pennsylvania saw its first action at Cedar Mountain. As the muskets fired and bullets flew, Sallie Ann stayed at the front with her soldiers, for the 11th was her family. She apparently tried to bite Confederate bullets when they struck the ground.
   She saw more fighting. At the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day of the war, the soldiers tried to get her to stay behind, but Sallie Ann refused and remained with her regiment.
   She gave birth to puppies, who were sent north to families, but Sallie Ann continued on with the 11th.
   When the Army of the Potomac marched before President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, Sallie Ann was in her place at the head of her unit.
   In July of that year, large Union and Confederate armies ran into each other at Gettysburg, resulting in a brutal three day battle. The 11th Pennsylvania saw action on the first day, during which they suffered a number of killed and wounded. When Union forces retreated back through town to regroup on Cemetery Ridge, Sallie Ann got separated from the regiment. As the bloody battle raged for 2 more days, no one knew what had happened to her. Considering there were 51,000 casualties, many probably feared the worst.
   After the fighting ended, Union soldiers explored the devastated battlefield. When they arrived at the site where the 11th had fought on the first day, they found Sallie Ann.
   After getting separated, she had returned and stayed vigil over the dead and wounded members of her family, soldiers of the 11th Pennsylvania.
   In 1864, Sallie Ann was shot at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse; though, she fortunately recovered.
   Then in February of 1865, Sallie Ann was sadly killed in action. Reportedly, several mourning soldiers buried her while the battle still raged. Finally, later that year, the terrible Civil War came to an end.
   Years passed by.
   In 1890, a monument was erected at Gettysburg honoring the 11th Pennsylvania. Veterans had demanded that Sallie Ann Jarrett be honored too.
   They got their wish.
   The monument consists of a Union soldier standing on top of a pedestal. On the front of the pedestal near the base, is the statue of a curled up dog, Sallie Ann Jarrett.
   In 1910, there was a reunion of surviving members of the regiment. They had their photograph taken with the monument behind them. If you look at the picture closely, you’ll notice 3 veterans are standing off to the right creating a gap. They did this so that Sallie Ann would be in the photo too, for if you zoom in, you can see the profile of her statue on the monument in the gap.
   So if you visit the Gettysburg Battlefield, stop by the monument and honor the brave little dog, Sallie Ann Jarrett.

1910 Reunion courtesy of emergingcivilwar.com
Memorial to the 11th Pennsylvania at Gettysburg
Photo of Sallie Ann Jarrett courtesy of emergingcivilwar.com
Someone left dog biscuits for Sallie Ann.

Pride Is Here

6-1-22
   Well Pride has arrived. A time for LGBTQ+ people to be proud and celebrate who we are. Many cities and communities have a variety of celebrations, although the COVID pandemic has changed some of how it is celebrated. In normal times, there are festivals, parades, declarations by local governments, and so on. Rainbow flags as well as the flags of a variety of LGBTQ+ groups are more prevalent, and on social media, LGBTQ+ people will say Happy Pride and put various LGBTQ+ symbols and colors on their profiles. For many, it’s a time to be proud who they are, to celebrate, and help spread the word and educate others.
   But for many LGBTQ+ individuals, Pride is not so happy. It can be a tough time for quite a few people. The reasons for this are quite varied. There are many LGBTQ+ still suffering in the closet, surrounded by prejudiced family members, coworkers, and others who create such a toxic environment that the LGBTQ+ person is too afraid to come out. There are others who have suffered personal setbacks or tragedies that have tarnished their feelings about Pride. In addition to these are numerous LGBTQ+ people who don’t feel much sense of community because of intolerance and lack of understanding coming from too many members of the straight and gay / lesbian communities. Examples of people who often feel this way are those who are bi+ (bisexual, pansexual, fluid), genderfluid, genderqueer, non-binary, transgender, asexual, and intersex. Too many of us feel like we don’t really belong anywhere. And I said “us” on purpose because I’m bi+ and genderfluid myself.
   So for a variety of reasons, Pride can be a difficult time for many LGBTQ+ people. So, to those for whom Pride is an amazing time, try to be considerate and understanding of those for whom this month is difficult. Take a moment to educate yourself and learn about the reasons why some people are hurting right now. Perhaps open your mind a little bit with regards to those who are bi+, genderfluid, genderqueer, non-binary, transgender, asexual, and so on.
   And to those for whom Pride is not so happy, be strong and hang in there. It’s okay. I understand because Pride is a difficult time for me as well. Believe in yourself and never give up.
   Remember:
   Believe in yourself and never give up!

The Soldier of Ancient Herculaneum: Was He a Hero?

   Let’s go back in time.
   It’s August 24th, 79 CE, and the place is an Ancient Roman town called Herculaneum which along with Oplontis, Stabiae, Boscoreale, and Pompeii sat below the large, powerful Mount Vesuvius. Thing is, there was a secret that the Ancient Romans likely had no idea of: Mount Vesuvius was a volcano. It had been dormant for centuries, so the inhabitants of the region wouldn’t have realized the potential danger that the mountain posed.
   Early that morning, people of the town would have gotten up and gone about their lives working, preparing food, going to the market, and so on. Though some may have been a little nervous about things because multiple earthquake tremors had shaken the area over the previous several days, and considering how there was still damage from a large earthquake that had struck in 62 CE, some concern wouldn’t have been a surprise. Still, they would not have realized the catastrophic horror that was a just hours away.
   It appears that a cloud of gas and ash began coming out of the mountain sometime during the morning. Around midday to early afternoon, the eruption got really violent as it explosively spewed large amounts ash and pumice miles into the sky.
   Shock and fear must have gripped everyone, for none of them had ever seen such a thing. Ash and pumice started falling to the ground southeast, east, and south of the volcano due to wind direction. While Oplontis, Pompeii, Boscoreale, and Stabiae were being hit by the ash and pumice due to their locations, Herculaneum was likely spared much of that since it was to the west of the mountain. But seeing the gigantic cloud of ash being spewed miles into the sky, the inhabitants of the town seemed to have done what they could to flee. Since it was a community on the water, most probably made their way to waterfront to try to get on a boat to make their escape.
   For years, archaeologists wondered if everyone from Herculaneum had possibly escaped because they weren’t finding any skeletons (whereas quite a few were being found in Pompeii). But in the 1980s, that changed. Around 300 to 350 skeletons were discovered at the site of Herculaneum’s ancient waterfront. The vast majority were inside boat sheds where they had been huddling for shelter, but a few were in front of the sheds on what would have been the ancient beach.
   The question arose: who were these people, and why had they been left behind?
   As research into the skeletons went on, something was being noticed, and this was that the vast had few to no possessions. The reason for this is that in all likelihood, most were slaves and the very poor. The Ancient Roman world was a pretty class conscious society so that it would not be a surprise that those considered to be the bottom of society (slaves and the extremely poor) would have been the last to be evacuated, and since there was probably not enough room on the boats to get everyone out, they would have been the ones most likely to be left behind.
   While the significant majority of skeletons were likely of slaves and the very poor, there were a few exceptions like one of a woman wearing jewelry. But the most notable stand out was the skeleton of a Roman soldier.
   Who was this individual, and why was he there?
   Examination of the skeleton and artifacts found with it have revealed quite a lot considering it’s been over 1900 years. First, the skeleton is that of someone who was physically male, around 40-45 years of age, and was found face down on what would have been the ancient beach in front of the boat sheds of Herculaneum’s waterfront. There is evidence of arthritis in a number of his joints, and many of his lower teeth were missing. At least some of the teeth in question had probably been knocked at some point in the past since the bone there had healed. He had on a leather belt, a military sword, a dagger, a pouch of coins, and a bag of tools. The military equipment (like the scabbards and belt) had decorations which look to have been quite elaborate and included some silver and gold.
   So the question arises: who was this man and how did he end up left behind on the waterfront? There are multiple theories.
   Herculaneum was not known to have had a large military presence or bases as far as experts understand. The town had a population of probably around 4000 to 5000. Being on the water, there would have people who made their living fishing in addition to others working in various jobs such as running thermopolia (fast food type places), bath houses, brothels, and so on. It was also likely a resort town for the rich who had villas there so that in addition to fishing and merchant boats being present on the waterfront, there would have been pleasure craft as well. Knowing this, one wonders about why the soldier was there.
   Just because there wasn’t a military base present, doesn’t mean there weren’t some soldiers stationed in the coastal town for one reason or another. Since he had a bag of tools, perhaps he was there helping rebuild damage from the 62 CE earthquake. Or considering how it was a resort town, the soldier may have been there delivering a message to an important official or something similar. Also remember that his military equipment was very well decorated, and as a result, we can’t rule out the possibility that perhaps he was there for pleasure.
   Another question is what kind of soldier was he? Considering that his military equipment appears to have been cutting edge for the time, he was likely an active member of either the Army or Navy, and since it was well decorated, he may have been an officer or member of an elite unit. One of the decorative designs on his sword’s scabbard seems to show an oval shield. This has made some researchers wonder if he could have been a member of the Praetorian Guard (the elite unit designated to protect the Roman Emperor) because they had oval shields at the time. Also, the amount of money he had on him seems to correspond with 1 month’s pay for a Praetorian Guard. While being a member of this elite unit is a possibility, the design in question and money amount he had don’t automatically mean that he was. Another theory speculates that he might have part of the Roman Navy (having a bag of tools would go along with this idea too).
   Across the Bay was a Roman naval base at Misenum. The commander there, Pliny the Elder, was curious about what was going on when he saw the cloud above the mountain. He was going to take a galley out to investigate but then received a message from a friend begging for help. He quickly took action and ordered naval ships to go across the Bay on a rescue mission. According to 2 letters written by his 17 year old nephew, Pliny the Younger, they went to Stabiae, and while there, Pliny the Elder died. It should be noted that in Pliny the Younger’s account, nothing is said about naval ships or personnel going to Herculaneum or Pompeii. But seeing that we are relying on just 2 letters written by a young man who was in Misenum the entire time, it is possible that a contingent of Roman naval ships did head to Herculaneum. Another option would be if the Roman soldier (or sailor) made his way from Stabiae to Herculaneum by land. The problem with this idea is that such a land journey would have been extremely difficult and dangerous considering how ash and pumice was falling and accumulating on the ground for a significant part of the route.
   Whether he was a member of the Roman Army or Navy, I’m going to continue referring to him as a soldier. He found himself at the waterfront during this terrible disaster. Seeing that he was a soldier (and considering his fine military equipment, probably an officer), people would have looked to him for guidance and leadership. So unless he arrived after all the boats were gone, he probably helped in trying to evacuate the population, and since there’s a good chance that he was an officer, he likely had a leadership role in the endeavor.
   So why did he die on the beach?
   While we can’t say with total certainty, there is a good chance he was helping organize the evacuation using any available boats and ships. But considering the size of the population, there almost certainly was not enough room for everyone. Seeing that the Ancient Roman world was often class conscious, it’s no surprise that slaves and the very poor would have been the last to get a spot if available.  When the final boat set off, 300-350 people (most likely being slaves and the very poor) were left behind. So unless the soldier arrived too late, he either decided to stay behind with them voluntarily, accidentally got stuck there in the confusion, or was ordered to stay put.
   It’s safe to say we’ll never know for sure why he was on the beach when the end came, but if he did decide to stay behind voluntarily, that would speak well of him considering that most of those with him were very likely people who would have been considered the bottom of Roman society.
   Late that night (probably around Midnight to 1 am), a deadly pyroclastic flow of super hot gas and volcanic debris surged down the mountain at rapid speed and engulfed the entire town. When it struct the waterfront, everyone present would have died very quickly. Mount Vesuvius continued its eruption into the next day (August 25th) with several more pyroclastic flows occurring. When things finally ended, Herculaneum, Pompeii, and the other nearby communities had been buried.
   And as to our Roman soldier, we’ll never be able to say with total certainty the exact circumstances that led him to be on the that beach when the end came. Did he accidentally get stuck on the beach in all the confusion, or was he ordered to stay behind due to a lack of space on the boats? Perhaps. But I can’t help but hope instead that at the end, he was a decent person who rose to the occasion, and when the last space in the last boat was needed to be filled, that he decided to put someone else on board opting to stay behind himself with the others even though the majority of them were slaves and the poor.

Some of the boat sheds at Herculaneum’s ancient waterfront. Courtesy of Photo 242056221 / Herculaneum Skeletons © pedro pereira | Dreamstime.com
Some of the skeletons in one of the boat sheds. Courtesy of Unsplash.
Some of the boat sheds of Herculaneum’s waterfront
Some of the boat sheds of Herculaneum’s waterfront

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/vesuvius-victim-identified-elite-soldier-attempting-rescue-mission-180977734/

https://www.britannica.com/place/Herculaneum

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/vesuvius-erupts

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/2-000-year-old-skeleton-identified-senior-roman-soldier-vesuvius-n1267056

https://www.livescience.com/soldier-skeleton-mount-vesuvius-rescue-mission.html

https://www.history.co.uk/article/the-eruption-of-mount-vesuvius-in-79-ad-and-the-destruction-of-pompeii

https://www.britannica.com/place/Pompeii