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The Pack

by Liz-Katherine Medina

There she goes
Out again
Sun so bright
Glistening sweat
She wears a scarf around her head
To disguise her bun
A giveaway
She holds her weapon close
Always at the ready
She inhales that dry air
The stench of waste fills her nose
But she does not stir
Standing straight
She carries her own weight
She takes a break
Sits on dirt
Drops her pack
She lets sleep return
That second feels like a minute
That minute feels like an hour
Eyes just closed
A moment of rest
It’s time to go
She grabs her pack
And the walk begins
You see,
That pack, is no ordinary pack
She carries food, clothes, medicine, socks
But she also carries
The tears her husband shed when he saw her go
The priceless hugs from her daughter that did not want to let go
The weight of her parents concern waiting on her return
She carries it high between her shoulder blades
She carries it with pride
For her it is just a small sacrifice
So that the dirt her daughter stands on
Will never be stained with the blood of war
So don’t you judge this woman
this mother
this wife
Don’t you judge this woman with a pack
Don’t you judge the tears she cannot mask
For years after her war is over
She will always carry on her pack.

Liz-Katherine Medina was born in Lima, Peru and immigrated to the United States when she was two years old. She is a Marine Corps veteran who deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and is currently a drilling reservist with Det-2 Supply. She helps bring awareness to PTSD by using it as her platform in pageant competitions, and in her current position of Miss Capitol Hill she uses fitness and poetry as an outlet for her PTSD. She lives in Woodbridge, VA with her two daughters, ages four and six.

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