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The Dress Uniform

by Kay Boulware

(To Her Father)

A metallic brilliance adorned the table as she buffed away with steady strokes the thick white cream that she had smoothed onto familiar brass objects just moments before. Whenever he asked, this was a task that she assumed with pride and dedication. After all, he was her father. The eagle, the star, and the buckle were among the combat insignia that were her playmates, earnest comrades that came alive on a polished playground of preparation, allegiance and love. They were her father’s medals.

She cleaned and shined with devotion and a girlish hope of tales from memories of faraway places.

…Air raids, fire, plunder, ash, and bombed and broken cities;
Torn banners, distant munitions, battle hymns, unspoken words and penetrating stares in a foreign tongue, and liberty scripted in history;

…Faded words of love on paper weathered by time, discovered in a fallen soldier’s pocket, destined for a vacant heart left behind; and

Fragrant whispers that echo still from kimonos of rivers, misty mountains, and dynasties of green teas and silk…

But the memories were not hers to remember…they belonged to her father.

She would keep them just the same.

Kay Boulware’s father served during World War II and the Korean Conflict. As a former “army brat,” she has never let go of the spirit of the military family. “The Dress Uniform” came from a childhood memory of shining the pins and ornaments that adorned the uniform of her father, Master Sergeant Winthrop Jones Boulware.

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