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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Telling Aggieland shares stories of bravery and service

The process of enlisting, going through boot camp and then deploying to a military base only to come home to become a civilian again – these were some of the stories shared at this year’s Telling Aggieland event.
Telling Aggieland came to Rudder Theatre Tuesday through Thursday, giving 10 individuals the opportunity to share their firsthand accounts of their military careers and veteran life.
Hannah Adamy, graduate performance studies student, said the speakers showcased honesty and bravery on stage. She said she felt the most powerful message she learned was the importance of community in military life.
“It takes a lot to get up in front of everyone and to talk about some things that are uncomfortable things to talk about,” Adamy said. “I really admired their courage and them doing it.”
The performance consisted of three acts. Within each act, a speaker would step up on stage and begin their personal story. Each act began with a story about enlisting and was followed by other stories of active military life. Each story concluded with the speaker disclosing how they dealt with their newfound civilian life after leaving the military.
“It’s a whole different mindset, a whole different embodied experience of being active military and then being a civilian,” Adamy said. “That is one of those things, is that gravity of that transition and I had no idea how big a deal that is.”
One of those transitions is going from military life to the stage. With a total of four months of training and rehearsing, Amber Zuniga, senior theatre major and assistant stage manager, said the speakers performed well and acted better than they could have hoped for.
“I thought it went awesome,” Zuniga said. “I mean, the guys have been putting in such hard work and they’ve been trying to memorize lines and getting the spots. It’s just something completely different for them and what they are used to and they did just wonderful.”
Zuniga said she thought the audience members felt connected to the live performance. From the moments of laughter to the harder moments of the stories, Zuniga said she felt the message the veterans were trying to tell was conveyed.
“I was genuinely surprised by the emotions we were getting from the audience,” Zuniga said. “It was so cool to know that they are actually getting a message through and it’s actually being heard by the people and they are loving it.”
One of the speakers was Kathryn Feldman, a 79-year-old retired military member. When Feldman was stationed at Okinawa, Japan, she said her duty was to requisition replacements for officers killed in action in Southeast Asia.
Feldman said she thought of one case in particular where she had seen one young man who, just weeks after arriving, was reported back to her on a casualty list. Feldman said the experience nearly broke her, and until now, she had locked away that story for over 50 years.
Feldman said she saw Telling Aggieland as an opportunity to open that door and to move past that experience.
“It has been a wonderfully healing experience,” Feldman said. “I still choke up and have to swallow a lump in my throat when I’m talking about that kid. But I can talk about it now.
Feld man said the event benefitted both the community and the performers themselves.
“They say this is a chance to unite the community but it also gave a way for veterans to talk about these things that have changed them,” Feldman said. “They are not the same people they were before they had these experiences.”
Feldman said military life helped her take chances and accept things as they came her way, teaching her to accept people for what and who they are.
“It took me a long time to learn that, and the Army sure did help,” Feldman said. “I’m 79 years old and I stepped up and took a chance on something. And I’m grateful that I had a chance to heal a very old painful wound as a result. I’m not totally healed but I’m on the way.”
Feldman said a message people should take away from the performance is to serve others around you and to think before acting but not be afraid to take chances.
“I think some of the students at some point in time will think about something,” Feldman said. “Maybe they’ll think before they act. Maybe they’ll think before they speak. Maybe they’ll say ‘I’m scared to death but I’ll take a chance. I’ll try it, and if I fall flat, I can get up.'”

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