Sunday, September 25, 2011

Women in Wartime

From the Star Tribune:
Sorry, but to address the disconnect between what nurses do in a war zone and life on the front lines, this story must be told. It comes from Lynn Bower, an Army nurse in the emergency room in Long Binh, South Vietnam, in 1971. She needed to cut away a soldier's uniform to treat his wounds. Struggling, "I went to grab his belt at the waist and when I pulled ... he came apart at the waist. He just opened up."

Bower's story is on page 43 of "Sisterhood of War: Minnesota Women in Vietnam" by Kim Heikkila, a new book published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. It is perhaps the most traumatic story amid the next hundred or so pages, but it provides a necessary underpinning to the accounts from 14 other nurses who served with little public notice during the Vietnam War.

The story explains, for instance, Kay Bauer's barely stifled snort at the suggestion that nurses knew little of the front lines. "There is no such thing as a front line," said Bauer, who now lives in Coon Rapids. "The war is everywhere."

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