Today’s post was written by my friend Karen R. Sanderson. She is a fellow writer, an outstanding editor, and also an artist and a poet. She told me this poem was inspired by A1C Kristi P-L, USAF, pictured above, who served with Karen’s son Kenton in Iraq.
As we celebrate Independence Day here in the United States this week, it seemed the perfect time to reflect with gratitude on those in uniform. This thought-provoking poem helps us understand the unique sacrifices made by our women when they don a military uniform. May God bless them and God Bless America.
She packed up her comfy jeans and lying-around T-shirts,
She shrugs into a heavy canvas uniform, now her second skin.
Boxed up her peep-toe high heels and sandals and stacked them away,
Now all she’s got are dusty high-top boots with heavy tread.
No delicate black eyeliner around lovely hazel eyes,
Just smudges of purple, her badges of fatigue.
No long showers here, nope,
Just unshaved legs so she looks like the rest of the troop.
Forget salon haircuts with mousse or gel,
In marches a permanent helmet-head hairdo.
She strains to remember how lovely that last manicure felt,
Handling weapons with broken, scraggy fingernails, unpolished and blunt.
Velvety cosmetic powder abandoned at home,
She wears the Iraqi desert upon her face.
Late night chat-fest nights with friends of her choosing, no more,
Now, it’s early morning wake-up and drill.
No delicate sparkling pendants around her neck,
Just a dull metal chain with tags that identify her blood type.
While mother’s comforting shoulder and soothing touch wait at home,
She learns combat strategies and how to react to roadside bombs.
Instead of cradling a tiny baby,
She shrugs into a burdened flak jacket that hides her girlish figure.
She rolls out with a loaded M4 and a 9mm Beretta.
Karen was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun. Her favorite book is the dictionary.