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Gun Laws In Florida, U.S. Vet Reflects On Afghanistan Through Poetry, And 'The Cubans'

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Courtesy of Justin Eggen
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Books written by U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran Justin T Eggen, who is is a father, national award-winning poet and a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University.

Local officials don't have any say in changing gun laws in Florida. Why? A U.S. vet shares his poetry and reflects on the situation in Afghanistan. Plus, Sundial's book club pick for August tells stories of Cubans on the island.

On this, Tuesday, Aug. 24, episode of Sundial. 

Gun Laws In Florida

With the political battles surrounding masks in schools and vaccine requirements, there’s another hotly-contested issue in state government getting less attention — guns.

The National Rifle Assocation is currently fighting a 2018 Florida law that prevents people under the age of 21 from purchasing a gun. They claim it takes away people’s constitutional rights.

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That state law was created after the Parkland school shooting with pressure from the community and students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

The latest episode of WLRN’s podcast series Tallahassee Takeover explores the ways in which the state government is seeking to usurp control from local governments.

Gun Laws In Florida
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U.S. Vet Reflects On Afghanistan Through Poetry

U.S. veterans are mixed on what is currently happening in Afghanistan.

The Taliban is rejecting any plan to extend the deadline for American troops to withdraw from Afghanistan. President Joe Biden’s deadline to evacuate Americans and their allies is just one week away.

Taliban leaders are also discouraging Afghans from trying to leave the country — urging them to stay home instead of trying to make it to the airport.

"[It] doesn't fall on one person. Biden, Trump, Obama, Bush," said Justin T. Eggen, a U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran who is following the developments closely from his home in Palm Beach County.

"It does look like we're just kind of scrambling to just grab everybody and get out of there as quickly as we can. So from that view, it doesn't really look like there was a plan, really," he said.

He served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and built close relationships with interpreters and service members there.

“Each person that works with coalition forces, United Nations forces over there, they have a story. These aren't just people that can go. We need to get them out,” said Eggen, who is also an award-winning poet. He joined Sundial and shared some of his poetry reflecting on the situation in Afghanistan.

His new book “Ten Years Ago, Ten Years Later” will be released in September. You can find more of this work here.

You can find ways to help in Afghanistan, and a list of organizations working on the ground, here.

US Vet Reflects On Afghanistan Through Poetry
 The cover of Justin Eggen's "War & Select Poems" which shows the book title and a hand reaching down to a solider holding a weapon

'The Cubans'

So much focus on the protests in Cuba has been on the island nation's Communist leadership and history — Fidel and Raul Castro and Miguel Diaz Canal — and its relations to the U.S. government.

New York Times reporter and author Anthony DePalma, wanted to tell a different story.

His wife is Cuban and he’s spent decades reporting about life on the island.

After Fidel Castro died, he looked for stories of everyday Cubans who are trying to make life work.

His latest book, “The Cubans: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times,” looks at the lives of a handful of Cubans who decided to stay, and embrace the revolution.

It’s the August pick for the Sundial Book Club. Join the book club here.

The Cubans
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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.