My Medals, My Heart: Displaying Pride in Service
November 7th, 2013 Comment on this post!
Fellow female vet Kristin Delfs asked me about my brooch. Here is (of course) … the whole story. Women veterans don’t have a lot of feminine or fashionable ways to show they served. The hats and tees or actual ribbon bar some men wear on their suit coats don’t work on women’s dresses or blouses. I knew sometime last summer I’d be spending a lot of time talking about my service and I needed the appropriate gear. I went to Sheena Thomas, a jewelry designer, metalsmith and co-owner of Elements, Ltd. She let me talk, and she listened intently. I needed it to be more than pretty; it had to be symbolic too. These are the concepts we came up with together.
1. It’s outer ring and the ribbons inside it are circular instead of rectangular to represent the shape of a woman, with balance and harmony, and how that doesn’t match the Army’s hypermasculine, rigid ideals.
2. The ribbons are not fixed, but are free flowing and dynamic. Instead of being pinned on in a static position to represent one past event, they are meant to show the power of those qualities in the present moment.
3. They are anchored, however, by the U.S. pin, for my country and it’s values will always be my foundation.
4. I picked 7 awards plus my unit award from my 14 decorations (without noting any second awards or devices). They are (left to right): Army Achievement Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Reserve Components Achievement Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Valorous Unit Award.
I can’t resist this final note, for the naysayers (whom I abhor) that claim I destroyed or disrespected military property … the military nearly destroyed me and for much of my career it didn’t give me much respect. I love it still, always will. But I am the commander of my own life now. I decide. And that freedom, which I partly paid for, is my privilege and right to exercise.