FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'You Could Get In Trouble'

Apr 13, 2018

Josh Groll spent his childhood at Fort Bragg.
Credit Elizabeth Friend

The start of the Iraq War in 2003 divided the country and mobilized a new anti-war movement. Josh Groll was in middle school at the time. His parents were firmly opposed to the war, but unlike many other anti-war protestors, Groll's dad was on active duty, and his family was stationed at Fort Bragg.

"Our family was, for all intents and purposes, an anti-war family," Groll recalled. "I remember my mother sitting down with me and having some really honest conversations saying, 'We live in this place and we can't be totally upfront with what we think'."

"I remember being incredibly afraid, almost just as much [of] my dad going off to war, that I would slip up and say something in school and somehow get my dad in trouble."  

Groll's father was deployed to Iraq later that year, but what he saw there only strengthened his stance against the war.

"While he's over there, my mom is actually in anti-war activist groups," said Groll. "My dad essentially gave his blessing while he was in Iraq, fighting."  

In the era of the Patriot Act and extraordinary rendition, Groll's parents worried their dissenting political views might make it impossible to continue living at Fort Bragg.

Groll's father returned from Iraq unharmed. Despite his opposition to the war, he remained in the military until he retired. For Groll, the experience helped shape his political consciousness at an early age.

"Being an anti-war family in the middle of a military base definitely made me think in global terms," he said.

The Ft. Bragg Stories series is a collaboration between the Fayetteville Observer and WUNC's American Homefront Project to commemorate a century of history at Fort Bragg through personal narratives. You can hear other stories in the series here. If you'd like to share your Fort Bragg story, you can send it here, or email fortbraggstories@wunc.org