I love obstinate, headstrong girls.

Over the weekend, Nina Davuluri became the first contestant of Indian heritage to be crowned Miss America pageant. She performed a classical Bollywood fusion dance for her talent competition.

Teresa Vail Soldier, opera singer, expert marksman, chemist - and she's pretty, too!

Teresa Vail
Soldier, opera singer, expert marksman, chemist – and she’s pretty, too!

I didn’t watch the pageant, but in reading about it during the past week, I chose Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, as my favorite. She made Miss America history by openly displaying her tattoos – the Serenity Prayer on her rib cage and a U.S. Army Dental Corps insignia on the back of a shoulder. When she was seventeen, she joined the Kansas Army National Guard. Now, five years later, she has become an expert marksman with the M16 rifle. She is also working towards a private pilot’s license, and her college majors are chemistry and Chinese.

To clarify, I’m not a huge fan of tattoos, but if she had them, she was right not to cover them up. I’m a proponent of being yourself. She said, “I was growing up amidst the bullying and neglect; I found myself asking God on a daily basis to give me peace in knowing I cannot change certain things about myself, but also asking Him to give me the strength to change things that I had the power to. Praying to Him for these characteristics got me through my adolescent years, high school, and boot camp. When I was twenty years old, I knew I wanted to always be reminded of my past and its connection to this prayer. Thus, I chose to have it tattooed onto my body. I have no regrets. The second is the military medical insignia. Though much smaller than the prayer, the significance is just as great. Since I was a child, God placed a strong passion for service into my heart. Service to my country, and service to people through medicine. In the middle of this symbol is the letter ‘D’ to represent my dad, whose influence was paramount in choosing this career path.”

This soldier eschewed a bedazzled costume and wore her camouflage gear and Army boots during Saturday night’s “show-us-your-shoes” parade on the Boardwalk. For her talent, she had planned to show her marksmanship with an on-stage archery display, but she was told two days before the pageant that “projectile objects” are forbidden. No problem. She improvised admirably, singing an operatic piece from Puccini, “Nessun Dorma.” Folks, she prepared that in forty-eight hours. Please put her in charge of something important.

Sunday, Vail tweeted: “Win or not tonight, I have accomplished what I set out to do. I have empowered women. I have opened eyes.” Indeed. She was chosen for the Top 10 and won a nationwide voters’ choice award propelling her into the semi-finals. The girl is a winner. She’s an Elizabeth Bennet if I ever saw one.

Here’s another “Lizzy.” This is my daughter, Mandy, who recently completed more than five years in the U.S. Navy.

My own obstinate, headstrong girl boarding the USNS Mercy

My own obstinate, headstrong girl boarding the USNS Mercy

She met and married her Captain Wentworth during her service to her country.

Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones, was another strong woman. She made it into the Top 5 while wearing a bejeweled knee brace. Though she tore ligaments in her knee while rehearsing her baton twirling routine on Thursday, she didn’t give up. She braced her knee and performed her routine flawlessly on Sunday night. It reminded me of the movie, “Miss Congeniality.”


9 thoughts on “I love obstinate, headstrong girls.

  1. Susan Kaye

    In reality, most of the things that happen in life are more interesting, and inspiring, than fiction.

    I managed to get through 4 years in the Air Force without harming anyone. My record is still clean.


  2. Susan Kaye

    I was actually referring to the fact that I’m a rather … volatile person and my seismic temper can be dangerous. The only skills I learned in the service were wrench bending and where the ejection handle of an F-111 is located.


  3. s0ph1ar0s3

    I didn’t follow the contest, but just from what you said I admire Miss Kansas. That’s neat that your daughter is serving and I thank her for that.


    1. Robin Helm Post author

      She’s out now, but her husband, a Marine fighter pilot, is career. They will be assigned overseas for the next three years.


      1. Susan Kaye

        I thank God my son’s inner ears blew him out of the water when it comes to going military. Yes, that’s selfish of me, but our immediate family has had two career military and seven 1-to-3 enlistment airmen/soldiers/Marines. We’ve done our part.



Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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