“I don’t mean to overstate what is yet unknown, but part of me believes when the story of earth is told, all that will be remembered is the truth we exchanged. The vulnerable moments. The terrifying risk of love and the care we took to cultivate it. And all the rest, the distracting noise of insecurity and the flattery and the flashbulbs will flicker out like a turned-off television.”— Donald Miller
I was seventeen when I shot my first 5.56 mm round with an M16 rifle. I was seventeen when I threw my first grenade. I had low crawled through mud underneath barbed wire and marched for miles with 50 pounds on my back even before those planes hit the twin towers in New York. Several years into that conflict, I was driving through the streets of Mosul swerving back and forth to avoid potential IEDs.
Nobody protested my service as people did during the Vietnam War. My generation was greeted with banners saying “Welcome Home” and “Thank You for Your Service.” But outside of the uniform, nobody would have known to say those words either.
Even in VA hospitals, I felt out of place. Women like me didn’t fit the profile and all too often we’d rather get in, get out, and go about our business than make a fuss. But we are not invisible. We deserve to take up space that we’ve earned, and to be treated with such respect, we need to start believing in it.
No doubt, there’s a war of competing voices. No doubt, the world is saturated with content meant to grab your attention, made possible by the celebrification of the individual, by flashbulbs and flattery. Noise, just deafening noise. When stories of heroism and patriotism are finally told, what is often missing are the women. My hope here is to do my part in changing that. My hope here is to amplify the voices of the women whose Amazonian spirits, trailblazers in their own right, have touched my heart or changed my life.
Real women. Real stories.