Meet Telling: Southwest Veteran Jason Calabrese

The Florida Humanities Council partners with The Telling Project, a national effort to bring veterans’ stories of military service to local communities. “Telling: Southwest Florida” features five veterans from the Army and Marine Corps. Three performances will occur at the end of the month in Naples and Fort Myers.

Each week, we will tell you a little more about each veteran. Today, we spotlight Jason Calabrese, a U.S. Army Sergeant.

Jason Calabrese joined the United States Army after the September 11th attacks in 2001. He served in the Army from 2002-2005. One of his initial deployments was to Germany. He is a current National Guard Reserve Member. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 to 2005 with the 1st Infantry Division.

“My experiences, and those who served with me, are unknown to most civilians state side,” Jason told us. “It’s

Reserve your seat
Performance Schedule:

WGCU
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S, Fort Myers
Get Directions.

May 4 at 7pm

This program contains adult language and themes of war and combat violence. Audience discretion is advised.

akin to being an astronaut who just returned from the moon. People want to know what it was like, and I want to share so the memories are not lost.”

Jason uses his experience in the Army as an inspiration for writing. In addition to serving as a Human Resources Specialist with the 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, Jason is a professor of English at Florida Southwestern State College.

To learn more about Jason’s story, and to hear from four other military veterans, join us for Telling: Southwest Florida later this month.


Below is one of the poems Jason wrote about his military experience.

The Shores and Shoals of Iraq

From Baghdad’s straights to Port Fallujah,
the tides of the past have receded back
and Democracies’ setting sail to the
Shores and shoals inside of Iraq.

And back home we’re all on board
And greet our leader with applause.
We tow the line to distant shores
All for our Captain’s worthy cause.

He’s set the course ahead
And checked the maps and charts,
for us infidels whose minds are set
on winning Muslim hearts.

And if we’re stung by seaward pests
or bugs that bite when they attack,
we’ll use great big gaping nets
to catch those pesky gnats.

And we’ll sail ‘till the Captain yells
“Land ho, we’re safe from harm.”
And we’ll greet our Muslim brothers
with shaloms and open arms.

And the Sunni’s will dance and sing
and hold the Shiite’s hands
as the bells of liberty ring
bringing peace throughout the land.

And when insurgents exchange
olive branches for their guns
then and there we’ll know
our work is truly done.

And when we see a splashing tail
Or red sky at the dawn,
we’ll cast off for the next great whale
Ahab sets his sights upon.

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