Much of the Republican Party is on a Dark, Twisted Path

August 17, 2022
   Liz Cheney’s defeat in the Wyoming Republican primary is yet another example of the dark, undemocratic path much of the Republican Party is going down. And what’s worse is that this trend is threatening American democracy itself.
   In terms of policy and how she voted in Congress, Liz Cheney and I would disagree on a great many things, but I admire the fact she has put defending American democracy and the United States Constitution above her political career and loyalty to a political party. She is one of the few Republicans willing to stand up to Trump and fight back against his lies and threats to our democratic values. She realizes the importance of democracy and the Constitution. So the fact that Republicans in Wyoming would vote so strongly against her reveals yet again how dark and twisted so much of the Republican Party has become.
   In many ways, the Republican Party is now the party of Trump, a party that is willingly following a narcissistic, lying authoritarian figure. Despite the fact that overwhelming evidence shows the 2020 election was fair and that Joe Biden legitimately won, the majority of Republicans believe Trump’s lies instead. And many are actively promoting those lies. Republicans in multiple states are pushing for laws that would make voting more difficult for many Americans, and it’s no coincidence that those being targeted are usually individuals who vote for Democrats. This is no exaggeration. Mail in voting has been shown to be quite secure and effective, yet Republicans are going after it because Democrats are the main ones who used it in the last election. Republicans are also trying to put Trump followers in official positions where they could interfere with state election results. Some are even pushing for policies where Republican controlled legislatures would be able to overturn election results if they didn’t like the way the population voted. Again, I’m not exaggerating here. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. This is really happening.
   Whatever your political beliefs or party affiliation, people need to speak out against the lies spread by Trump and others. It’s time to stand up for democracy and the United States Constitution and vote in elected officials who do the same because if people don’t, future historians may look back on this time as the beginning of the end of American democracy.

Millions Still Blindly Follow Trump No Matter How Wrong His Behavior Is

August 16, 2022
   Many people in this country need to take a good hard look at themselves with regards to why they continue to blindly follow Donald Trump no matter how wrong, inappropriate, undemocratic, or dangerous his statements and actions are. We’ve seen this pattern continuing for years now, and it’s beyond disturbing. It’s dangerous. I say dangerous because history has shown that when people blindly follow an authoritarian leader, dictatorship often is the result. Yet despite this, millions of Americans (in this case Republicans) continue down this dark path.
   Let’s consider the fact that the FBI, using a legal search warrant, removed 11 sets of classified documents from Trump’s possession at Mar-A-Lago. 3 of these were Confidential (which is the lowest level of classified). 3 were rated as Secret (which is the next step up), and 4 sets were Top Secret. The 11th set of documents was Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI). TS/SCI documents are so secret that they are supposed to only be accessed in specific, secured locations. Yet all of these documents were at Mar-A-Lago after Trump had left office. Why would he have documents such as these at his home. No former president is supposed to have such classified materials in their personal residences. What’s even more disturbing is that the federal government had been trying for months to get Trump to turn over classified materials he was not supposed to have, yet clearly Trump had not returned all of them. As to why he had these documents, Trump’s story has changed multiple times, which is suspicious in itself.
   According to the Presidential Records Act, when a president leaves office, documents (that “includes any documentary materials relating to the political activities of the President or members of the President’s staff, but only if such activities relate to or have a direct effect upon the carrying out of constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President,”) must be turned over to the National Archives because they belong to the United States government. Officials at the National Archives go through the documents to see what can be made public and what is classified. If a former president wants to display some records in their library, they must get permission from the National Archives to do so.
   Remember that the US government had been trying for months to get materials from Trump that he wasn’t supposed to have. The Department of Justice is still investigating the situation, so we don’t have all the answers at this time. But I find it extremely troubling that Trump had these classified documents (documents that it sure sounds like he was not supposed to have). There are reports that at least one of the document sets may have been in regards to nuclear weapons, and while this has not been confirmed, if true, would be beyond troubling. Because why would a former president have deeply classified documents with regards to nuclear weapons? Hopefully the DOJ’s investigation will supply us with some answers. And what makes the situation so much worse is how it’s just the latest in a long history of Trump’s lies, exaggerations, and inappropriate comments, actions, and behavior.
   Trump lost the 2020 election. The evidence for this is beyond overwhelming, yet Trump continues to spew out his outrageous claims and lies about it. It’s also clear that his false claims instigated the assault on the United States Capitol Building that occurred on January 6th, 2021. He repeatedly insulted our allies during his presidency, seriously weakened the NATO alliance, and even questioned the necessity for the alliance to exist at all. He mocked people with physical disabilities and grossly mishandled the COVID pandemic. And these are just a few examples of Trump’s inappropriate behavior.
   Yet despite all of this, millions of Americans continue to blindly follow Trump no matter what. They won’t admit when he is out of line and totally wrong. Blindly following a leader no matter what is exceedingly dangerous and undermines democracy. It’s the sort of behavior that dictators use to seize and hold power. History is full of examples. Yet millions of Republicans keep right on doing this.
   It’s scary.
   People need to open their minds and quit being blind followers. They need to get news and information from a variety of independent sources and learn different points of view. They need to think critically and independently.
   But will they do it?
That’s the big question.

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.

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

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