President Trump Just Crushed My Career Plan, And I'm Not Taking It

President Trump Just Crushed My Career Plan, And I'm Not Taking It

I worked hard for four years to tell our country's story, and Donald Trump just made it all for nothing.
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This morning I got a notification from my Politico news app that told me what I quietly prayed wouldn't happen: President Trump froze federal hiring.

My blood boiled and I went silent to the people around me. My career plan, my humble job that I wanted for years, my job that I'd sent in several applications for over the past month, was just snatched away from me by our new President on his third day in office.

I'm a senior studying history and political science. I'm writing an eighty-page honors thesis. I've worked my ass off for four years. I'm graduating in May - perfectly on time - with two degrees.

My dream job that I was working for wasn't to have some cushy office on Wall Street, earn six figures, get a company car, or get bonuses in the form of a trip to Hawai'i each year.

My dream job was to wear a green and gray uniform, walk through fields, hills, and forests, and teach my fellow Americans about our heritage.

I wanted to serve my nation in the National Park Service - I wanted to be a park ranger at our nation's battlefields and teach our people about the sacrifices our soldiers made at places like Valley Forge, Fort McHenry, and Antietam. But President Trump decided that in the end that that's expendable.

I've been wanting to teach our history since I was a little boy. Living my whole life in Pennsylvania, my family took me took me to the Gettysburg battlefield all the time. I became fascinated with how men from my hometown - my unimportant little town where nothing happened and no one went anywhere - came to this sacred place to fight and die for their nation on those three hot July days in 1863 during our Civil War. I developed a personal connection with history.

Deep down in my heart, I feel called to tell our country's story.

That calling got even stronger in the summers of 2014 and 2015 when I got the chance to intern with the National Park Service at Gettysburg. It was a dream come true. I worked hard every day, trudging around those fields in the summer heat - but it barely felt like work. I loved every minute of it. I felt like those brave men who fought there were watching me and I was making them proud by telling their story.

It became a spiritual thing for me.

When I would tell a story of a particular soldier - some poor boy from Virginia or Minnesota or Texas or Maine - and I would make a visitor feel an emotional connection to that story, I felt like I was building the strength of our nation. America was built by average people, and it's kept alive by average people like you and me who remember the stories of the people who came before us.

Not long ago, back before he was elected, Donald Trump visited Gettysburg.

He visited that sacred place and heard the stories of the courageous men there who gave what Lincoln called "the last full measure of devotion." What exactly may have been going through his mind during his visit there, I can't say.

But it doesn't appear that it was any sort of appreciation.

I hope he at least enjoyed listening to that ranger in the picture above. She cares about that place with enough passion that she studies the stories day in and day out. But by the executive order he signed today, it doesn't look like President Trump cares about places like Gettysburg, where Americans like you and me bled and died to hold this country together.

It's not just me that's angry about this.

There are a lot of other people like me who wanted to teach our country's history. One writes a Facebook status saying, "I feel like my whole future's been ripped out from under me. I feel like all of my hard work and careful plans were for nothing."

Another wrote, "Not that my future or my friend's futures matter or anything apparently, but hey, it's kind of important to me to have one of those. You know. A job. And a future. Both would be nice." Inevitably, someone will say, "Well, you should have done something better than go for a liberal arts degree!"

There's nothing wrong with what other people do. Even taking up a trade - that's an honorable way of life, and I'll never look down on it. But wanting to devote your life to commemorating the sacrifice of America's soldiers? How the hell is that not part of Mr. Trump's plan to "Make America Great Again?" He clearly has a much different idea of what America is than I do.

I suppose if I were more patriotic, I would have gone to the Wharton School of Business and become a swanky businessman who licenses his name to sub-par steaks and scams people out of their money when they enroll at a phony university.

Thanks for nothing, President Trump.

Cover Image Credit: Tourism Cares

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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An Open Letter To PETA CEO Ingrid Newkirk

For an organization whose sole purpose is to ensure the ethical treatment of animals, I have many questions.

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Dear Ms. Newkirk,

I, like you, am a firm believer in the right to compassion for all living beings around the world. Ever since converting to veganism from the omnivorous lifestyle I was raised to lead nearly six years ago, I have heavily relied on PETA.com and its affiliates for information, facts and statistics, recipe ideas, cruelty-free lifestyle selections, and activism opportunities on almost a daily basis so that I may further grow my knowledge and support for this permanent lifestyle change. When I search for new beauty or household products, clothing, shoes, and more, it is always comforting to see the "PETA-Approved Vegan" logo on the box, and I am confident in the purchases that I am making.

It was only recently that a new stream of data was brought to my attention that has altered my viewpoint of your organization and what it truly stands for, and I request that you provide the public your reasoning or justification for such acts, and any reparations that need to be made. Another lifelong vegan friend of mine recently pointed out to me a website called petakillsanimals.com where there is sizable physical legal evidence of immense animal cruelty, suffering, and murder at the hands of PETA over the last fifteen of years. Seeing as you have been the CEO of the organization for over 25 years, I figured it would be best to address you directly, seeking a response to this evidence of cruelty from the globally renowned organization that does all that it can to fight cruelty in every form.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, from 1998 to 2017, 85.2% of all dogs and cats transferred to your facility for shelter were euthanized within 24 hours of being brought to your facility. Despite your reasoning that you painlessly end the suffering of animals who would have otherwise been left to suffer anyway, the arguments and justifications that you are making mirror the arguments of the meat, dairy, poultry, and fish industries (whom you dedicate your life to combating) all too identically. Just as PETA fights to end society's blasé attitude toward animal cruelty and murder, your attempt at claiming that the way you euthanize the animals in your facility is "better", renders one of PETA's greatest catchphrases, essentially, worthless: "There is no such thing as humane murder".

Similarly, after wrongfully luring a family pet off its porch in 2014, PETA took the pet from its owner's property and euthanized it, bringing the dog's owners to file a lawsuit with your organization that was just settled in 2017, where PETA was forced to pay the family nearly $50,000 dollars in damages. Finally, terror is not ever a justifiable option to invoke change, so why are you personally and professionally so aligned with the Animal Liberation Front, a terrorist organization responsible for arson, extensive property damage, and assault? Why have you donated nearly $80,000 to groups that promote harming life in order to save a life?

Ridding the world of violence with more violence has never, does not, and will never work, so if I can request only one thing from you in this letter, even if you refuse to answer my other questions, it is this: please take the funds that are allocated towards extensive euthanasia drugs and services used by and in your facility, and put them toward building either another building to house more animals if physical space is a concern, for providing food and more extensive adoption services for these animals, or donate them to a true no-kill animal-rights organization like Best Friends Animal Society, Underdog Rescue, or any others provided on this list.

In this letter, my intention was neither to attack nor provoke you in an inflammatory manner, but rather to merely seek truth from an organization that I once so dearly respected and wish to one day respect again in the same manner. I thank you for your time, and for all of the lives that you have saved in between.

Sincerely,

An Animal Lover & Ally

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