I remember reading a bit of Thomas Frank's book 'What's The Matter With Kansas?' when it came out. Have you encountered any hostility about your lack of religion while in the military? There is a group here on Nexus for atheists in the military. Also, Mikey Weinstein's Military Religious Freedom Foundation is a good resource. Mr. Weinstein is a former Air Force officer who started the organization when his son was harassed by christians at the Air Force Academy.
I have heard thousands of stories from people who stayed here for Katrina. That has been my job, more or less, for the last five years. My friend Steve Schlicht, who started the Great Southern Humanist Society, is a peace officer in Biloxi. His story of his family's Katrina experience, and his experience of the aftermath as a first responder, was published in the American Humanist magazine. He also wrote an excellent rebuttal to an editorial in the Biloxi Sun Herald that came out shortly after the storm, one of those 'there are no atheists in foxholes' homilies. The writer, SH publisher Stan Tiner, printed a retraction. The Katrina Research Institute, located on the third floor of the Library at USM Gulf Coast in Long Beach, has an oral history project where Kimberly Michele could go and document her Katrina experiences for posterity. Steve and I both did it.
We are all born atheists. I was forcibly converted to catholicism because that was what my dad was, sort of, anyway, I went to a catholic elementary school and my dad dropped us kids off at church every Sunday on his way to the golf course with an envelope for the collection plate. He learned very quickly not to put cash in the envelope. I was an atheist by age twelve.
The Bankhouse Coffee shop on Jeff Davis. Nice place. They roast their own coffee right in the store. Long Beach downtown is starting to look nice. They are building a big park on Jeff Davis just off the beach. the new City Hall is almost done. Unfortunately, they found oil on the beach Wednesday morning. The harbor is closed. A cloud of sadness and uncertainty hangs over the whole MS Gulf Coast.
I am in a coffee shop in Long Beach right now, having just left a meeting on how our local non-profits groups are going to respond to the oil spill. No oil on the beach here yet, but it is only a few miles east of here in Biloxi. Stay safe.