Wednesday, September 06, 2006


This summer I attended a writers' workshop for wounded veterans in Belfast, Maine. This dramatic monologue was performed onstage by Meg Beach-Hacking at the National Theatre Workshop for the Handicapped.

(boastful) As a child, I co-starred with Cary Grant, John Wayne, and Tony Curtis every Sunday afternoon. Sometimes I was a nurse, tenderly caressing his brow with cool water, other times we laid on the beach in the moonlight, gazing into one another’s eyes professing undying love….

(excited) Exploring the remains of World War II forts, I pretended I was a lookout in the watchtower, machine gun ready, carefully scanning the horizon for any sign of Nazi submarines. Then, accepting command of a torpedo patrol craft, I’d stand side-by-side Lt John F. Kennedy – together, chasing enemy gunboats to help win the war.

Like a moth to a flame I was drawn to the military. When I was 18, I joined the Navy – not just any Navy, but Cary Grant, John Wayne and Lt Kennedy’s Navy. I wanted to join their Navy, I wanted to fight their fight.

(fiercely) In 1979, women in the military had to be tough. I had to work twice as hard to be considered just as good. I didn’t ask for any special considerations. I only wanted to perform my duties to the best of my ability. But sometimes that’s just not enough.

The politicians wanted women to join the Navy to fill administrative, medical, and other non-technical positions allowing more men to go to sea. In reality, the women occupying jobs onshore required the men to spend more time at sea, creating animosity.

(insulted) We were frequently the butt of jokes. Every so often my supervisor would instruct me to install a transmitter in an aircraft parked in the hanger. I grabbed a toolbox, hoisted the 40-lb transmitter to my shoulder, and set out to prove how tough I was. I looked in one hanger after another, but could not find the aircraft. The heavy equipment became an intolerable burden, but I refused to give up. I returned to the work center to verify the side number of the aircraft. When I opened the door, everyone began laughing, and I realized I’d been had.

“Newbie” jokes aside, I was very disappointed. Where was the camaraderie that Patricia Neal and John Wayne shared in the movie, “In Harm’s Way?”
Once, my daughter ran a high fever and needed to see a doctor. My supervisor asked, (sarcastic) “Was your kid issued in your sea bag?” (irritated) “No,” I replied. “Well do it on your own time,” he snapped. A man asking for time off to take his child to the doctor is interpreted as caring for his family. But a woman in the same situation is called a “no-load,” a “slacker,” requiring someone else to pull her share of the work while she is away from the job.

(fiercely) Well I’m not a man. And I’m not a slacker or no-load, either. I am a mother who cares for the health and welfare of her children. I am also a sailor who takes her job – no, her career – seriously. I missed first words, first steps, and trick-or-treating. I sacrificed tender moments with my children to defend my country. I was on the job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In 2003, (proudly) I completed over 20 years of honorable service. Because of the sacrifices my family and I made, and those made by other trailblazers like me, when my daughter, Army Specialist Carrie L. Wilson, has children, she won’t have to choose between supporting her family, and having a career.


At September 11, 2006 4:34 PM, Blogger Artemis Rich said...

I wish I could've been there to see you perform this. Reading it brought tears to my eyes. Your strenght, dedication and talent shine.

I'm honored to be considered your sister.

At October 31, 2006 12:57 PM, Blogger Sandi said...

You're so sweet! One of these days you'll be able to read it from a book.


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