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Thoughts from Dr. Joe: This one's for the girls

November 18, 2010|By Joe Puglia

I wanted to write some thoughts for Veterans Day but nothing would come. Thus, I stared at my computer with a look of consternation. Since it was Sunday, Penelope's was closed and I couldn't seek the council of a chai latte. I was on my own, at home.

Quietly, Kaitzer walked by carrying a load of laundry and said, "Can't think of what to write about?"

"Nope," I said.

Over the din of the dryer, she calmly said, "Write about the sacrifices of women," and then disappeared with another batch of clothes.

Hmm. I never thought about the sacrifices women have made in American wars.

After some reading, I realized a reality that I had taken for granted. It was a picture of the Vietnam Women's Memorial. How could I have escaped the impact of the contribution and sacrifices of women? The sculpture depicts three uniformed women with a wounded soldier. While one nurse comforts the soldier, another kneels in thought or prayer. The third looks to the skies — for help from a medevac helicopter, or perhaps from a higher power.

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This picture spoke to me and I realized that my ignorance of women's contributions was merely repression. The women's war was different from the men's. Instead of exploding jungles, their war exploded in the mind. Surrounded by death, the nurses had to shut down emotionally. They could not show their feelings to the soldiers they were trying to heal. Some lost their lives, but all lost their innocence.

As I stared at this sculpture, it stared back. I could imagine what the nurses gave: kind smiles, gentle touches and the soft words that eased the wounded soldiers' pain. Many acted as surrogate mothers giving a dying soldier the last bit of comfort and love.

The Vietnam Memorial would encompass many more names if it weren't for the nurses who gave a full measure of their devotion. Ironically, we have accumulated the statistics that tell us how many helicopters we lost, but we do not have a definitive number of how many women served in Vietnam.

There is a glorious history of women of courage who have served this country from the Revolution to Iraq. Women are interwoven in the battle history of the Revolution, the war of 1812, the Mexican American War.

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