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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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military

Service–Military or Otherwise

When you hear the word SERVICE, what flashes through your mind? Currently, it may be a picture of doctors and nurses. It could be your favorite restaurant server, your mechanic, or someone in the military. I was an Air Force wife from 1972–1979 and I waited tables in the closest restaurant to the main gate of both an Air Force Base and an Army Post in Tacoma, Washington from 1978­­—1991 where most of the customers were active duty or retired members of the armed services. I moved back to the Finger Lakes area of New York State in 1991 and lost my connection to a military-based way of life. When I hear the word service my mind thinks military first, then may drift to other definitions.

I am a five-year member of the Rochester, NY Veterans Writing Group. We meet each month and I have only missed a few meetings since joining in 2015 because being with “my” vets has brought me home to a feeling I didn’t know I was missing until I experienced it again. When I started attending I found my “tribe” of brothers and sisters that “get it.” The group gathers around a table and writes personal experience memories brought forth from thought-provoking prompts. Once the allotted writing time ends, we read our musings aloud, sharing the highs and lows, and sometimes comical, points of military life. It’s a healing process and only safe to do with other vets who understand: the front lines come with exhaustion, bad food, blood, and death; the military comes with pride, service, boredom, and chaos; the home front can be supportive or fall away in a flash, and it takes 22 to 25 other members in the background to support the ones brandishing weapons no matter the circumstances.

I am proud to share, the groups’ anthology titled, United in Service, United in Sacrifice will be released in May 2020. The authors are veterans and family members ranging in age from 27 years to 95 years old. The stories start at WWII and move forward to Afghanistan. The authors’ goal is to help anyone understand the meaning and feeling of “tribe” or “brotherhood”  of the military and the sacrifice it takes to “sign on the dotted line,” hence the book title.

According to the National Conference for State Legislators, only 7.6% (in 2019) of all Americans have ever served in the United States military. I beg to differ because I was a dependent wife and had two children. No, I didn’t serve to the extent of following orders and being asked to brandish a weapon, but I carried a military dependent ID and served by being the back-up, the home front, who gave up my childhood roots, never gave them to my kids, then willingly packed and moved each time the Air Force ordered my ex-husband to do so. I made immediate friends with new neighbors and relied on other members of my husband’s unit as a family because I had no other choice. Becoming a military dependent changed my life by expanding the puddle in which I live.

Today I continue to serve by being the “Mom” of our writing group. I take the coffee pot to each gathering, check-in privately with a member when I can sense they need it, and present each new member a patriotic quilt on their sixth month attendance anniversary. I learned to sew when I was in high school and I’ve been making quilts ever since. I am very fortunate to have a large sewing studio in my home that has multiple cupboards full of many different colors of fabric, lots of it red, white, or blue.  My husband is often with me when I’m shopping for fabric. He carries the bolts I pick, chats with the person who cuts what I want, and pays for it knowing I am going to give most of it away. He’s a veteran too and his generosity keeps me occupied doing something I love, and gives both of us a way to acknowledge our fellow veterans.

The quilt pictured below was made for my WWII Veteran friend, Bob Whelan. It is a replica of the 13th Armored Cavalry (1944-’45) patch of which he was a member and is now the President of that unit’s reunion group. The quilt hangs in his study at home. The pattern for the recurring block is called Kaleidoscope. Fun fact; my husband was in the 50th Armored Division (1970-’76.)

WWII quilt

patqlt

The above quilt was a gift to Steve McAlpin

Vets

We had to say a final farewell to one of our own this past January. Some of “my” vets from left to right; Me, Gary Redlinski (Vietnam), Steve McAlpin (Afghanistan), his girl Carol, Holly Katie (family member), Vaughn Stelzenmuller (Vietnam), Bob Whelan (WWII)

There are so many different types of service whether it is in the military, to your family or community, at work, in your children’s schools, at the Carrot Ranch, etc. Service can be as simple as a smile in the check-out line at a retail store or brandishing a weapon not knowing if you’ll make it to the next day and all points and locations in between.

Charli Mills serves us by giving us a fun, safe, positive place to share the written word. I am thankful to be a part of Carrot Ranch and proudly talk of my international friends who keep my life puddle ever-expanding.

In the comments section please share your service story–military or otherwise.

 

Happy Birthday to Our Army

Formed from amateur troops of volunteer soldiers defending colonies against British tyranny, the oldest military force in the United States began before the U.S. formerly existed. Their forces consisted of mostly inexperienced militiamen commanded by independent colonial armies. According to battlefields.org, there were never more than 48,000 Continental soldiers at one time. Today, the United States Army consists of over one million active duty service members and an additional 800,000 National Guard and Reserves members. The enduring history of the U.S. Army means they have been integral to many of the United State’s military, peace-keeping and humanitarian efforts.  Continue reading “Happy Birthday to Our Army”

Stealing From Texas

Women’s Veterans Day June 2018-Texas

The National Association of American Veterans (NAAV) Inc., would like to announce a historic event taking place in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. This event is intended to “recognize women veterans of Texas.”

I saw the above announcement on Facebook so I had to investigate. Now I want to know why this is only a day in Texas and not the whole country. I don’t think Texans will mind if I showcase their day.

If you think about it, the nurses in the military for many, many years have been female. Women have also done other jobs and now we have female pilots, females on the ground in the front lines and female officers leading large groups of mixed sex soldiers. They have come to the front showing their capability and resourcefulness to get a hard job done. Following is a list of impressive females that have served the U.S. You can look up the link to read about them.

Seven Famous Women Veterans

  • Bea Arthur.
  • Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody.
  • Grace Murray Hopper.
  • Eileen Collins.
  • Harriet Tubman.
  • Elsie S. Ott.
  • Sarah Emma Edmonds.
military.com/veterans-day/famous-women-veterans.html
I have a lady friend that served during the Korean War. At that time in the U. S. ladies that went into the military were said to be either lesbian or whores. To this day my friend doesn’t openly admit she volunteered to serve her country because the stigma has stayed with her. I hope this day helps to alleviate that.
In my book anyone that serves their country (whichever one that might be) deserves special recognition as well as their families that support them on the home front. Nationalism is important to me. I hope it is to you to.

 

 

 

Remember the Fallen

What is Memorial Day weekend to you? In western New York state, it’s the unofficial start of summer when people with summer cottages take the three-day weekend to go open them up for the season. It’s the weekend you can safely plant your flowers or garden without fear of a killing frost. It’s a weekend of parades, picnics and family time. My husband and I make it an annual event to visit the graves of our loved ones to plant geraniums or leave a new stone. We also go to a chicken-bar-b-q at the American Legion in my home town and enjoy listening to a country music band that we know personally.  Continue reading “Remember the Fallen”

Thank a Veteran

Every May 1, across all branches of The United States military, Americans honor the sacrifices of the combat wounded, ill and dying  on Silver Star Service Banner Day.   [courtesy National Day of Calendar]

I’ve been involved with the military a long time and this is a new one on me though the calendar says this day was established in 1917. Maybe I’m not as observant as I think I am. If there is a blue star banner hanging in someone’s window that means they have a family member that is currently in active service to our country, the United States. If there is a similar colored flag with a gold star that means the military member died while  in service to our country. And today I am learning that the silver star banner means the service member came home from combat wounded or ill. Continue reading “Thank a Veteran”

National VietNam War Veteran’s Day

I dare say there are millions of people born after l980 that have no memory of the Viet Nam war, what it cost our country and more importantly what it cost the men and women that fought in it. Many of the participants went to “the Conflict” because they were drafted. Others went out of duty to their country. Unfortunately almost all came back to jeers and were afraid to be seen in public with their uniforms on. I find that disgraceful. Continue reading “National VietNam War Veteran’s Day”

PTSD Personified – Flash Fiction

January 11: Flash Fiction Challenge

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about wet ink. It can be artistic, writerly or something completely off-the-wall. Go where the prompt leads.

“Doc, my family feared I would die shortly after the ink was dry on my enlistment papers. Now I’ve made it back home without a visible wound they want me to tell them what my days were like: what I ate, what I saw, if I met any nice girls. They have no idea all the Army wanted from me was a body count. Having done what I was expected to do in order to survive, now I am dead inside. I’m afraid to go to sleep at night because of the nightmares and ashamed I made it home.”

Freedom Isn’t Free

This day is observed to honor the 3,500 Americans who lost their lives or were wounded on December 7th when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and gave the U. S. reason to enter WWII.  Continue reading “Freedom Isn’t Free”

A Marine’s Memory

 

Thank you Dave Cole for your service and for sharing the reality of war. (I know this is really long, but may give a non military connected person a taste of why we always stand for the flag )

Happy Marine Corps Birthday to my Marine Corps friends that I still remember killed in Vietnam Battle Continue reading “A Marine’s Memory”

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