Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day, 2007

Alice B. Sheldon published science fiction under the name of James Tiptree, Jr., and I've been enjoying learning about her remarkable life through the recent biography written by Julie Phillips.

Sheldon served in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps during WWII, and two quotes from the journal she kept at Fort Des Moines in the early 40s seem particularly appropriate today:

What an awakening seeing for the first time in my life a world of women — women glimpsed through doors of canteens offices barracks kitchens guard posts — women plowing through the black mud into the pools of light — women in uniform, looking as though they owned the place — and owning it! Women seen for the first time at ease, unselfconscious, swaggering or thoughtful, sizing everything up openly, businesslike, all personalities all unbeding and unafraid.


... [T]he long green lines of women, for the first time in America, in the rain, under the flag, the sound of the band, far off, close, then away again; the immortal fanny of our guide, leading on the right, moved and moving to the music — the flag again — first time I ever felt free enough to be proud of it; the band, our band, playing reveille that morning, with me on KP since 0430 hours, coming to the mess-hall porch to see it pass in the cold streets, under that flaming middle-western dawn; KP itself, and the conviction that one is going to die; the wild ducks flying over that day going to PT after a fifteen-mile drill, and me so moved I saluted them.

(The quotes are from J. Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, [St. Martins, 2007], pp. 109 and 110.)

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