Soldier Girl

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Excerpt from the author's blog:

Why I write.

My writing is meant to highlight how Americans are taught, via stories, to accept and even embrace the US military as the most noble and trustworthy institution in the nation. Although few Americans have firsthand experience with the military or combat and so may imagine their lives are untouched by war and the forces that wage it, the ubiquity and content of these stories teach lessons about American warmaking. These lessons not only inform what Americans think and feel about the United States’ military mission and its members, they also teach the role of American citizens in sending other Americans to war. For example, in my postings I might explore how words like “warrior,” “weapon,” and “armor” are used so frequently and sometimes recklessly in the popular sphere that we become desensitized to their literal meanings. Or I might discuss what it means that the Department of Defense is the only federal agency unable to pass an audit, thirty-some years after it was required. Or I might contemplate how the All-Volunteer Force recruits fifty years after its inception, especially with a dwindling number of potential employees.

Who I am.

Since earning my PhD in middle age, I have spent the last 25 years teaching, researching, and publishing about American war culture. I have taught at small liberal arts colleges and large state universities, with classes entitled “Languages of War,” “Re-membering Vietnam: Memory, History, and Memoirs of the War,” “Warring Masculinities” and “American War Stories.” My name appears on numerous journal essays, in essay collections, and on five books, either as an editor, a co-writer, or a sole author. My subject usually has to do with American storytelling about twentieth century military culture.

But this interest in the stories Americans tell about war is lifelong; one might even say it developed organically, as I’ve never not been a “SoldierGirl.” I was born into and raised in a large, US Army family, felt deep anxiety when my father spent two year-long tours in Viet Nam, passed my teenage years at three different high schools, and moved more than a dozen times before leaving for college. It was clear to me that I was both expected to attend college and was also wholly responsible for funding it. Because the military academies were not yet opened to females in 1974, when I was making post-high-school plans, I applied for and won a 4-year Army ROTC scholarship to pay for college, and at graduation was commissioned as a Military Intelligence officer. Following Intelligence courses at Fort Huachuca, I was sent to the 3d Armored Division in what was then West Germany. There, as a tactical intelligence analyst, I studied East German and Soviet military operations, watched the Fulda Gap in fear of the East Germans and Soviets attacking NATO through that lowland corridor, and earned, at night and on the weekends, a Master’s degree in International Relations.

I count myself lucky to have been partnered with the same person for nearly fifty years, and he is my primary editor and idea-bouncer. Not only have we been colleagues in the literal sense, we also have three children together and now, two grandchildren. When I’m not studying American war culture or talking on the phone with one of my adult children or hiking in the splendors of Northern California, I’m playing with the kiddos.


Copyrights by the author.