Phillipe's father fought in World War II as well, and was equally reticent about his service. But he received a Purple Heart after he was shot during a battle in the Aleutians. When he returned to the States, he was put in charge of an all-black regiment, because as a kid from West Philadelphia, the thinking went, he "knew how to talk to 'them.'"

P.'s father died when he was nine years old, and his surrogate father for the next two years was his uncle Francis X. McElhatton, a Marine lifer who taught Phillipe about right and wrong from a Semper Fi perspective.

On Christmas Day 2011, P. was proud to be holding the hand of his longtime companion's nephew as the family said grace at dinner. He is a Marine, who was on his way to the front lines in Afghanistan, where he remains today. His sister, who is a Navy Seabee, called the family that evening from Kuwait, fresh off some sharp fighting in Afghanistan, making it a joyous holiday.

The kids' family lives in Pittsburgh. They are huge sports fans. And this summer, P. wore a Pittsburgh Pirates cap every time he played golf — a quiet salute that he explained only when asked.

It is easy to pass judgment and make assumptions when you don't know people's lives or their stories. Phillipe is proud of his family and his extended family, which has a record of service second to none. If that is elitism, so be it.


It's been mostly bad news in recent days. People in the New York-New Jersey area are still suffering. Places like Staten Island, the Far Rockaways, Red Hook, and Brighton Beach — places where friends of P&J live — were especially hard hit.

With this sort of devastation top of mind, and a hard-fought national election just behind us, we are surely in a period of unity, yes? Think again.

Since the election, hundreds of thousands of people in all 50 of these United States have signed petitions to dis-unite — to secede from the union. Are these right-wing wimps just terrified of the mighty Obama or what? Good luck with your White Man Nation or whatever you have planned.

But there was one bit of good news this past week. The charitable arm of package delivery giant UPS announced that it will no longer provide grants to the Boy Scouts of America on account of the group's recently reiterated policy to exclude all gay folks from participating as scouts or scout leaders. Nice to see some of our corporate citizens taking a proactive role in fighting discrimination.


Phillipe and Jorge aren't sure if someone is yanking our chain, but we recently received a press release saying that November 19 marks World Toilet Day, which aims to highlight the plight of 2.5 billion people without access to clean, private toilets.

"I give a shit, do you?" is theme of global awareness campaign

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