Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing

Veterans

Of Honor and Blue Stars

by Ann Chiappetta

The soldier’s stance keeps him in good posture, shoulders straight, ready for action. Confidence and training come through during target practice; his body moves expertly and he takes aim. He will serve and protect, honor his uniform and endure.

People have remarked he has a “hard stare”, often called “his stink eye,”. It is intimidating. He doesn’t miss much, green eyes scanning surroundings, sizing up others. Authority is hard for him to put down, it sticks to him like static-charged cellophane. He chews gum with an air of purpose, as if the goal is to get every bit of chew before discarding it.

Yet, at times, his voice sounds like an adolescent. It’s quiet, New York, and doesn’t carry far. when he talks to a child or to an animal, the tone takes on a tone of kindness. Strong hands that compel a violent person into handcuffs have also held a hamster, comforting the small animal as it died.

He was married in an inter-faith ceremony which took place in a reception hall. His voice quivered as he said his vows. When they danced the first dance, he whispered, “I don’t know how to waltz.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take the lead,” she said.

No one noticed.

~ ~ ~

It is mid-morning and she is tired. The baby and her bladder compete for the discomforting influence upon her body. She stands in front of the TV, listening to the talking head. Stormin’ Norman is deploying troops. She wants to not listen but is drawn to the TV like a car crash. She wants this whole military thing to resolve so she can stop worrying, stop picking her cuticles. She wants him here when the baby is born.

She hates the way this feels; hates that she is at odds with her soldiers drive and loyalty to his country. She hates the ripping apart of her family at such a pivotal time.

She loves her country. She becomes emotional during the National Anthem, Memorial Day, and July 4th. She loves to see her husband in his uniform, feel his high and tight haircut, and touch his medals. She loves his desire to serve, hates his decision to sacrifice his life to protect his Country.

She watches clips of the middle east, reads about the Anthrax vaccine, chemical warfare, insurgents. She thinks of how the families felt during the Vietnam War. She is struck that these wives, mothers, and children were held hostage by the TV, too, waiting, watching, hoping to get a glimpse of their soldier alive and fighting. Her cousin had been in Vietnam, and was missing in action for months. He returned with the 1000-yard stare and barely spoke. She is afraid her soldier, her husband, her unborn child’s father will return this way and the anxiety dries her mouth.

She turns the TV off, returns to the kitchen, begins washing the dishes and thinks, I hope he never gets the call.

About the Author

Ann Chiappetta M.S. is an author and poet, making meaningful connections with others through writing. Ann’s nonfiction essays have been printed in Dialogue magazine, among others. Her poems are often featured in Poesis, The Pangolin Review, and Magnets and Ladders. Her poetry is also included in Breath and Shadow’s 2016 debut anthology, Dozen: The Best of Breath and Shadow. Her books—a poetry collection Upwelling: Poems, a memoir Follow Your Dog a Story of Love and Trust, Words of Life: Poems and Essays, and a short story collection A String of Stories From the Heart to the Future—are available in both e book and print formats from Amazon. Visit her site http://www.annchiappetta.com/ to learn more about her work.

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One thought on “Of Honor and Blue Stars”

  1. Oh Annie, what a powerful piece.
    I can relate to this, as my brother in law served in both gulf war conflicts.
    However, nothing I felt could possibly be similar to what you must have gone through each time you saw such news broadcasts.
    The mix of love and anguish you felt shines vividly through in your words.
    Thank you for sharing such a personal portion of your life with us.

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