This is my grandmother Zelma's US Army dog tag. Every member of my dad's most immediate family has one, including Zelma, who somehow managed to raise a set of Irish twins on Army bases all over the world. My dad remembers going to Kindergarten in Austria when his father was stationed in Germany after World War II. Later they lived in the Ozarks, long before the tv show, when it was the great frontier and my grandmother used to keep snakes from coming in the house with a bb gun. She was tough as nails, could land a punch, but also incredibly feminine and very, very funny. Never the wallflower, she wasn't afraid to speak her mind even if it didn't win her friends. Even when she called people on their bullshit, she always seemed to charm them with her infectious sense of humor and win them over in the end. She was diabolical like that. She spent her last years living independently as a volunteer safety officer at her retirement community. She loved it and was fearless in enforcing the rules (you better wear shoes in the pool clubhouse) and ended up with a handful of boyfriend companions, which she always chalked up to the number one perk of being a safety officer, having your own golf cart. My dad gave me Zelma's dog tag a handful of years ago. He still keeps his dog tag on his keychain and some day when he is ready to part with them, I will be gifted his dad's and brother's as well. I've never really known what to do with it. When we had a bedpost, I kept it there, but for the last 10 years it continues to sit in a satined glass box my grandfather made, next to my bed.

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