Left Coast Writers®: Barbara McVeigh – Redemption (San Francisco)
“My father is a federal criminal. My father is a hero,” Barbara McVeigh writes in her memoir Redemption: How Ronald Reagan Nearly Ruined My Life.
Reagan fired her father for a union strike in 1981, leading him and 11,500 other families into years of strife. Just eleven years old, she lost her dream to become an oceanographer, and her beloved guitar lessons, as her family struggled emotionally and financially for years. She blamed her father for “following his ego,” as her grandfather had termed it, and not placing family first. Reagan’s heroic public image soared as America was told how he combated the alleged threats of communism, nuclear war and the Soviet Empire. Thirty years later, Barbara marries and then takes up sailing at her late great uncle’s urging, himself a passionate and accomplished sailor, who had been her best friend, where she finds an unexpected connection to the ocean and freedom of the complexities of the modern world.
When hard, bitter truths emerge about the ocean’s health and her fourteen-year marriage, Barbara packs her bags and leaves the illusory “good life.” She takes the helm of not one, but two film projects, one with the world’s paramount oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, and the other with renowned Brazilian guitarist Jose Neto. She does this with no experience and virtually no money, to reclaim her childhood dreams and, in a desperate effort, to remind the world of the awe, beauty, and truth we must always stand for. During her projects she confronts the dark shadows of Reagan’s energy, labor, health, media, and environmental policies, revealing horrific truths about America’s so-called “Hero of the Republican Party.” She discovers that her father was NOT the federal criminal Reagan accused him of being. Instead, her father is a hero today.
Barbara shares her very personal and painful family story of three generations and her search for truth that led her to China, Cuba, the Balkans, across Europe, and ultimately back to her own home, the San Francisco Bay. There she discovers herself, and what it means to be free in America today as our world faces political, social and environmental threats unlike any before. Barbara has a new dream and sees now that the spirits are guiding her, just as they had been, all along.
Barbara McVeigh is a writer, educator, filmmaker, radio host and environmentalist. She’s the mother of two children and lives in Northern California. Her one mission: to advocate respect for the natural world as we face political, social and environmental threats unlike ever before.