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The StoryCorps Mobile Tour is partnering with WUSF Public Media to record and preserve the stories of Tampa residents and preserve them in the Library of Congress. For 16 years, the StoryCorps Mobile Tour has brought loved ones together for thousands of meaningful conversations about the things that matter most.

One Small Step Tampa Bay: Military Members Share Love Of U.S. From Different Spectrums

Paul Mott (left) and Brad Pupello are featured in this week's StoryCorps' One Small Step - Tampa Bay.
Paul Mott (left) and Brad Pupello are featured in this week's StoryCorps' One Small Step - Tampa Bay. WUSF STAFF

This week’s story from StoryCorps' One Small Step - Tampa Bay focuses on two men who served our country in Afghanistan under Presidents Bush and Obama, and yet both came away from the experience with different political ideologies.

Lutz resident Brad Pupello, 41, is a Marine Corps veteran who considers himself a conservative with libertarian leanings.

“I’ve felt this way since I can remember,” he said. “I never had that liberal-by-20, conservative-by-40 moment. I was pretty much consistent all the way through, hopefully refining my reasoning behind it.”

Dade City resident Paul Mott, 49, is an Army veteran who identifies as liberal, but he didn’t always feel that way. When he joined the Army, shortly after 9/11, he held more conservative views.

ONE SMALL STEP: WUSF breaks down the boundaries created by politics

“Right after 9/11 I had some very stereotypical views of people of the Muslim faith,” he said. “After a few months in Kuwait, I found that we were not too far apart. A lot of politicians stereotype Muslims and from what I saw, that just wasn’t the case.”

Brad and Paul’s experience in the military served as a common thread throughout their discussion and helped them identify their similarities. While they both agree that social media has made discussion of politics toxic, they disagreed on how best to deal with global warming.

In the end, they both realized that they each want what is best for the country, but disagree on how to get there.

StoryCorps Tampa Bay airs every Monday on WUSF 89.7 at 8:44 a.m. during Morning Edition and at 5:44 p.m. during All Things Considered through October.

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