The Soul of my Soldier by Abigail Calkin ’59. Abigail, a Quaker, marries a Vietnam vet. Story over. Oh, but he needs a new Rototiller, so he re-ups in the reserves, and Abigail discovers what it is like to be a military wife. He ends up doing two more tours, this time in Iraq. Abigail, a psychologist herself, manages the balancing act between supporting our armed forces and decrying the anguish of war. She tells Bush that it’s not Shock and Awe, but rather Damage and Destruction. At the same time, she gives a gift card to an airport café to buy a cup of coffee for any returning vet. In a letter, she pours out her soul to Obama asking him in a kind of litany, ”But what is the cost?” Through prose and poetry, we learn that PTSD does not affect only the soldiers. Those waiting at home pay a price as well. Abigail takes a shower with her underwear and glasses on or brushes her teeth in her coat and gloves. For me, the most moving scene is of Abigail in front of the Wall in Washington. She is grateful that her husband’s name is not there as she thinks of the catastrophic event behind each name. It occurs to her too that her husband is not unscathed: amid what is lost is her husband’s innocence.
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