Author Chat: Starlett Henderson on Loving Military Life
1001 Things to Love about Military Life is written by Tara Crooks, Starlett Henderson, Kathie Hightower, and Holly Scherer. Read all about it at www.lovemilitarylife.com.Today we’re chatting with Starlett (Star) about her experience with this amazing book.
Starlett (Star) Henderson, co-founder of Army Wife Network, home of Army Wife Talk Radio, has been an Army wife for 16.5 years. She is a National Guard Army wife. Her journey with the military began writing daily letters to a friend at Basic Training in 1990. She joined the Army in 1993, and later married that “friend” in 1995. Her husband is David, and they have two children: Thomas (15) and Tara (8).
WIB: So Star, what do you love about military life?
Star: It’s all about passion for each other, for our “mission” and our faith.
That’s reason #933 in the book. Can you share with us the poem you wrote to go along with it?
There was an American girl,
who wanted to give life a whirl.
She married a soldier, to love and to hold her,
and wound up seeing the world.
That lucky girl became Army Wife,
who always stands proud no matter the strife.
She counts it a blessing and goes on professing,
“Nothing beats this passionate life.”
I love that, and I think a lot of women will be able to relate to exactly what you said. And there are a thousand other things to love about military life in this book, as well. Tell us how the idea for the book came about.
In 2006, Tara and I met Kathie and Holly virtually. By the end of 2008 we were talking publisher(s) through this idea of a book, similar to Barbara Kipfer’s 14,000 Things to Be Happy About, but for military.
Kathie and Holly came up with the idea, which grew out of their need to remind members and family and inform communities why the military experience is held dear and revered, especially in the long run. They spent the last two decades uplifting military spouses, their Soldiers, and themselves (Kathie’s a veteran) despite the challenges this life holds.
They thought the idea of consolidating the insights they learned and utilized as personal touchstones was worth looking into. It was. It ended up being a “ready-made” gratitude journal with room to explore the reader’s own reasons for committing to the military lifestyle.
What did you like most about working on it?
This book had appeal to me personally, because I’ve never been able to fully articulate how much I love the military and why. This was me putting those reasons down for my parents, my husband’s parents, my children, and my friends (so many are not affiliated with the military). It was really a personal testimony, even if that’s not readily apparent. I think it is in my acknowledgements. I was in JROTC growing up, but I shocked everyone when I came home with a signed contract to join the Army Reserves without consulting David (my serious boyfriend by then), my parents, or my friends. This is a belated articulation of the reasons why I joined, and why I’ll never regret that decision. I think one of my first blog explains that a bit more too.
It was also a huge deal professionally (a coup really) and an opportunity to demonstrate my ability to commit to and finish such a project. I honestly saw this as something I’d be crazy not to accept. I will say, working with our mentors Kathie and Holly made it all feel right. I have no problem saying “no” to ideas or people for the right reasons. The fact that it was going to be hard wasn’t a good enough reason to skip this opportunity.
You’ve been active military and a military spouse for years—so as you collected contributions for the book, did anything anyone said surprise you? What was it?
I mostly enjoyed meeting happy military couples in their retirement years being grateful for the time they dedicated to the military and having rich full lives to show for it. The wounded warriors and Gold Star families who we read about were surprising in their fervor and belief that their sacrifices were tragic but served a greater purpose. They still serve, and that is something to me. Loving them and all they stand for is the least I can do.
Let us not mourn that such men died, but rejoice that such men lived.
–GEN. GEORGE S. PATTON JR.
I will not forget Paul Johnson, who serves still, as an emblem of patriotism and love for this country.
Paul Johnson was a high school class mate of mine, and also a fellow JROTC cadet. That is a bond that is hard to explain, and also hard to shake. His mother was so proud of me and the message of this book.
It’s surprising that they hold no bitterness (most Gold Star families), which can only mean that they truly love their country, serving its leaders and needs without regard for themselves. I wanted to honor that with my own military service and now the book.
How do you hope this book will affect readers?
I want those who have no idea about the military to understand that some of the reasons to love military life is that it affords its members the opportunity to serve their nation and their neighbors in an organized and professional manner. It is a choice for people who want to have a career or even a piece (time-wise) of a profession they can believe in and respect.
For more from Star, visit http://www.lovemilitarylife.com/starsintr
Photo of Star and David Henderson courtesy of KLSmith Photography