Every Day Is a Gift

A Memoir

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By Tammy Duckworth

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In this New York Times bestselling book, learn the incredible story of Illinois senator and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth and see what inspired her to follow the path that made her who she is today.​

In Every Day Is a Gift, Tammy Duckworth takes readers through the amazing—and amazingly true—stories from her incomparable life. In November of 2004, an Iraqi RPG blew through the cockpit of Tammy Duckworth's U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter. The explosion, which destroyed her legs and mangled her right arm, was a turning point in her life. But as Duckworth shows in Every Day Is a Gift, that moment was just one in a lifetime of extraordinary turns.

The biracial daughter of an American father and a Thai-Chinese mother, Duckworth faced discrimination, poverty, and the horrors of war—all before the age of 16. As a child, she dodged bullets as her family fled war-torn Phnom Penh. As a teenager, she sold roses by the side of the road to save her family from hunger and homelessness in Hawaii. Through these experiences, she developed a fierce resilience that would prove invaluable in the years to come.

Duckworth joined the Army, becoming one of a handful of female helicopter pilots at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She served eight months in Iraq before an insurgent's RPG shot down her helicopter, an attack that took her legs—and nearly took her life. She then spent thirteen months recovering at Walter Reed, learning to walk again on prosthetic legs and planning her return to the cockpit. But Duckworth found a new mission after meeting her state's senators, Barack Obama and Dick Durbin. After winning two terms as a U.S. Representative, she won election to the U.S. Senate in 2016. And she and her husband Bryan fulfilled another dream when she gave birth to two daughters, becoming the first sitting senator to give birth.

From childhood to motherhood and beyond, Every Day Is a Gift is the remarkable story of one of America's most dedicated public servants.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Half Child

Tammy, you’re making the whole house shake!” My cousin stood in the main room of my aunt’s house in Bangkok, arms folded, laughing at me. “You’re stomping around like a big farang.”

I had heard that word throughout my childhood in Thailand, along with other dismissive comments Thai kids would make to mixed-race kids like me. Farang, derived from franc or française, is the catch-all term Thais use to refer to a white person. But coming out of my cousin’s mouth, it had a more pointed meaning of big, fat, clumsy… different. Born in 1968, the daughter of a six-foot-tall American dad and a five-foot-tall Thai Chinese mom, I was bigger than Thai girls my age—a fact my cousins teased me about every chance they got. Just walking through my aunt’s wooden house, my footsteps falling more heavily than those of other girls, was enough to provoke a “joke” about my size.

My Thai cousins made it clear that they felt superior to me in other ways too. They’d tell me to stay out of the sun or I’d get even more freckles, which Thais considered blemishes. Any kind of spots were judged against the traditional Asian ideal of porcelain skin: If you’re upper-class, you don’t work outside, so your skin stays smooth and unmarked by the sun. My smattering of freckles had nothing to do with working in the fields or anywhere else—I had them because my dad had them. But my cousins didn’t care about that. They just liked finding another thing they could tease me about.

And then there was this classic: “Your dad smells like cheese!” Traditional Thai cuisine doesn’t include cheese, and many Thais find the odor of it gag-inducing. When I was a kid, I did too. The first time my mom made me a cheeseburger, when I was about seven, I thought I was going to throw up. The smell of juicy burgers was completely overwhelmed by the sickening stench of gooey, slimy cheese. Even the texture was gross! As an adult, I did eventually develop a taste for cheese, and now good luck prying me away from a nice runny Camembert or a stinky Stilton. But as a kid who was self-conscious about being different, I felt embarrassed when my cousins would hold their noses and laugh about the way my dad supposedly smelled.

Being biracial in Thailand was complicated, especially in the 1970s, as the Vietnam War forever changed the calculus between Americans and Southeast Asians. Biracial children with farang fathers were looked down on as half children, and not just figuratively, as the word for “biracial” in Thai literally translates to “half child.” Yet at the same time, some mixed-race people were seen as more beautiful, the result of an internationalization of white standards of attractiveness that was just starting to take hold. Pale skin, fair hair, blue eyes, aquiline nose—all of these were seen as markers of beauty. Of course, I didn’t have any of those features myself. And neither did the many biracial kids whose fathers were Black U.S. servicemen, who unfortunately were treated even worse than those of us who had white fathers.

I was a mixture: I had a round face and an Asian nose, but double eyelids, sparing me the prospect of the now-ubiquitous double eyelid surgery. I also had dark brown, wavy hair rather than the glossy, straight black curtain my cousins had. Unlike theirs, my hair tended to frizz up in the humid tropical air. My mom would try to control it with braids and hair clips, until she finally just gave up and gave me short pixie haircuts instead.

I hated being teased and feeling different. But in other ways, I was very lucky. Unlike so many American men who fathered “half children” like me, my dad didn’t abandon my mom, my little brother Tom, and me to fend for ourselves. He stayed and made us a family.

My dad, Frank Duckworth, grew up in Winchester, Virginia, a small town nestled in the Shenandoah Valley at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He never knew his father, Joseph Duckworth, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1929, just ten months after Frank was born. Suddenly left a widow at age eighteen, Frank’s mother, Winnie, moved in with her parents, in a home they also shared with her two unmarried aunts. So my dad grew up in a household of four women and his grandfather, all of them struggling to survive in the dark years of the Great Depression.

Winchester is famous for three things. It was the town that changed hands the most during the Civil War, switching back and forth multiple times between the Union and Confederate sides. It’s the hometown of country singer Patsy Cline, who was actually a classmate of my dad’s at John Handley High School. And it’s the self-proclaimed “Apple Capital” of the United States.

Surrounded by orchards, the town has celebrated the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival since 1924 with a big parade and the crowning of “Queen Shenandoah.” Frank’s mother and grandparents had no money, but like many of their Winchester neighbors, they had apple trees in their yard. So, during the Depression years, that was the one food the family always had plenty of. When my dad was hungry, which was often, they fed him every kind of apple product you can think of: apple pie, apple crisp, apple butter, apple juice, apple cider. Apples saved Dad during his childhood, but he ended up hating them. And he wasn’t too keen on sticking around in the Apple Capital either, so at age fifteen he went to a local recruiter, lied about his age, and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Marines trained my dad to become a commo guy, setting up and wiring communications equipment. According to him, he spent the last few months of World War II in Okinawa, where his job was to run from foxhole to foxhole with a roll of wire on his back, linking up battlefield telephone systems. I can’t confirm that he was actually there during the war, as what military paperwork we have of his doesn’t reflect that. Then again, that paperwork is full of so many mistakes and erasures, even his birthdate was recorded differently on different documents. The one thing we do know is that early in his military career, he suffered a gash in his right arm, leaving him with an eight-inch-long scar that cut across his tattoo of the USMC anchor, globe, and eagle. He was awarded a Purple Heart, and for the rest of his life, my mom says, he was jolted awake by nightmares of being back in action.

The way my dad told it, after about five years of service, he left the Marine Corps and joined an Army program that helped enlisted troops finish college and become officers. He went to the University of Alabama for a year, but then was involuntarily recalled back to active duty, given a commission, and trained to be a signal officer. The Army sent him to France, where he spent much of the 1950s installing telephone lines and switches as part of the effort to rebuild Europe after the war. In the 1960s, as the U.S. ramped up its military involvement in Vietnam, he received orders to northern Thailand, where thousands of U.S. troops were sent in support of Air Force squadrons flying missions into the war zone. And that’s where he fell in love—not only with my mother, but with life in Southeast Asia.

My mom, Lamai, was in her midtwenties at the time and working in a souvenir shop she owned with her brother. Running a shop came naturally to them, as their parents had been shopkeepers in Chaozhou, China, in the early part of the twentieth century. But in the late 1930s, as Mao Tse-tung gained power, their parents feared that the rise of communism would lead to discrimination, or worse, for capitalists like them. So they sold their shop, converted their cash to gold, and set out for Thailand—by train, by foot, by boat, any way they could get there. When they left China, they had two children. One more would be born on the journey, and my mom, the youngest, was born in 1941 after the family finally made it to Thailand.

Mom and her family were among many thousands of Chinese who immigrated to Thailand as Mao consolidated his power. They were broke by the time they arrived, but grateful to be in a country that translates, in the Thai language, as “free land.” Although my mom is ethnically Chinese and her first language is Teochew, the dialect spoken in Chaozhou, not only does she think of herself as Thai, she has no desire to go to China—even for a visit. Once, when I asked if she wanted to see the Great Wall, she said, “Tammy, it is a wall of sorrow. There are bodies of slaves in the wall. Why would I want to visit that?” She and her family saw China as a place where those with power practiced brutality and those without it suffered, and they were glad to have escaped.

But tragedy followed her family to Thailand. When my mom was a toddler, her mother went to a nearby river to wash out Mom’s little chamber pot. The exact details are lost to time, but somehow she lost her balance, fell into the water, and drowned. Though my mom was just a child and obviously not at fault, the rest of the family blamed her for the death. From then on, her father and siblings mistreated her horribly. Her sisters beat her, and her father refused to pay for her schooling, so she found her way to cosmetology school. The only family member who wasn’t cruel to her was her brother—the one with whom, in adulthood, she would end up opening the shop in the 1960s.

My dad used to go into that shop and poke around, looking at all the sundries and souvenirs. But he wasn’t really interested in what Mom was selling; he was just interested in Mom. He would follow her around, chatting her up and trying to get her attention, but she apparently liked some other American serviceman who also used to come around. There were thousands of them in northern Thailand in the 1960s, sent there as part of the war effort—young American men, very far from home, chasing, dating, and impregnating Thai women. My mom was wary of getting involved with a Soldier, though, knowing that most of them would leave at the end of their tours of service and never return.

She didn’t know at first that my dad was a Soldier, because he never wore a uniform into her shop. At the time, he was serving in the U.S. Army Reserve, but his main job was working as a federal civilian employee of the Department of the Army. He told her he was a Soldier only after they started dating, and when she balked, he promised that he’d take care of not just her but her family too. That’s how he won her over.

My mom agreed to marry him. The only problem was, my dad was already married.

I don’t know much about his first wife, but he had three kids with her—two daughters they had together, and a stepdaughter from his wife’s previous marriage. From what I could tell, when my dad fell in love with my mom, he simply decided he was done with that family. He flew home from Thailand to get divorced, then came right back to marry my mom. As a child, I was always a little bit haunted by the fact that Dad seemed to have abandoned his first family, which made me worry that one day he might just up and leave us too. My mom’s sisters, who never missed a chance to belittle her, used to insist that he was going to do exactly that.

One of my first memories is from the early 1970s, when I was about three or four years old and my brother Tom was a toddler. My mom pulled me aside and told me that Dad was going away for a while. He’d gotten orders for a one-year Army tour of duty at Fort Sheridan, near Chicago, and instead of going with him, we would stay in Thailand. I’m not sure how she expected me to respond, but I jumped up and ran into the kitchen. I opened the cabinet under the sink to make sure we had enough rice to survive, in case Dad didn’t come back, and was relieved to see a forty-pound bag there. “We have rice,” I told my mom. “We will be okay.”

“Don’t be silly,” she snapped, pushing me away from the cabinet. She felt bad that I was worried, and whenever Mom felt bad, her first response was usually anger. But she had to have been worried too, because there really was no guarantee that Dad would come back. And if he didn’t, she would be stuck there, alone, raising two biracial children in a culture that rejected them.

In fact, discrimination against biracial kids was so ingrained in Thai culture that even the government officially exercised it. A few days after I was born, when my parents went to an office in Bangkok to register my birth, a bureaucrat there told them they weren’t allowed to give me the name they had chosen. Dad wanted to name me Winnifred, after his mother, but the man behind the desk said he would only register me as a newborn if I had a Thai name. My parents argued with him, but he wouldn’t budge. While I doubt he would have gone so far as to deny me a birth certificate, my mom decided it just wasn’t worth the fight. She quickly chose Ladda—a common and nice enough Thai name, roughly the equivalent of being named Anna or Joan in America.

Discrimination is never good, but at least there was an upside to this particular instance: It saved me from being named Winnifred. Apologies to all the lovely Winnies out there, but it’s just not the name for me. Neither is Ladda, really—but like most Thais, my mom decided to call me by a nickname rather than my given name. The name she chose was Tammy, and that’s what I’ve always been called.

In the year that Dad was gone, we had to move in with my mom’s eldest sister, and she spent the entire time criticizing my mom, telling her we’d never see him again. “This is what you get for marrying an American,” my aunt would say. “You should have known better! He’s never coming back.” My cousins teased me about it too, saying, “Oh, look! Your farang father has abandoned you. Just like all the Americans do.”

It was no wonder they believed that. We had all seen the homeless “half children” with round eyes and wavy hair begging for pocket change on the streets. And everyone knew about the orphanages full of biracial kids—children whose G.I. fathers had abandoned them, and whose Thai mothers either couldn’t or wouldn’t care for them. Many of these young mothers were shamed and wrongly accused as being prostitutes for having had sex with farangs, and some were pressured by their families to disown their children.

During the Vietnam War era, tens of thousands of Amerasian kids were born in countries like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand. In Vietnam, they were derided as “children of the dust.” In Thailand, as elsewhere in Southeast Asia, they often ended up mired in poverty, lucky if they could find work as exotic decorations at restaurants, nightclubs, and strip joints. Sometimes strangers would offer young mothers money to “adopt” their “half children.” Very few of these adoptions were aboveboard, and many such children were sold into a life of servitude. The worst outcomes were of countless children being sold into Southeast Asia’s notorious sex trade and forced into sexual slavery.

One afternoon when I was less than a year old, my mom took me with her on a water taxi down the Chao Phraya River, which runs through central Bangkok. A man on the boat looked down at me and smiled. Then he turned to my mom and said, “She’s so cute.” My mom nodded, taking note of his expensive clothes, his southern Thai accent, and the fact that he appeared to be shaking. Suddenly the man blurted, “Twenty-five thousand baht!” He was offering to buy me, for the equivalent of about $1,200. He obviously thought she was raising me alone, probably desperate, and maybe even a prostitute. My mom reacted instantly and viscerally. “No!” she yelled, hugging me tightly and moving away from the man. “I’m not going to sell my baby!” She had a husband, and I had a father—but so many others did not, and sadly, men such as this one would have no trouble finding other young mothers and children to exploit.

For many such children, the wounds inflicted by their abandonment never healed. To this day, men and women my age contact my Senate office from Thailand, asking for help in finding long-lost fathers. People send me heartbreaking emails saying little more than “Can you help me find my father? His name was Sam. He was a Sergeant in the Army.” Sometimes they’ll have a piece of a uniform, or a long-abandoned Army footlocker, or an old black-and-white photo of a fresh-faced young American man posing with a smiling teenage Thai girl. It’s heart-wrenching to have to tell them, “I’m sorry, but there were thousands of Sams like your father.” I try to help when I can, but there are too many stories, too many children left behind, and too few answers to the questions that have burned in these people’s souls for more than five decades.

Looking back now, I understand how desperate our situation would have been if my dad hadn’t returned. My mom would have been young, abandoned with two Amerasian kids and no job, living at the mercy of her judgmental siblings. How long would it have been before we were out on the streets? I almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to finish school, instead having to go to work in a factory or as a maid. I know my mom; she’s tough. She wouldn’t have abandoned Tom and me. But there would have been no other obvious path but to repeat her own early life in poverty with her two “half children.”

Even as a child, I knew that without my dad, we had no future. And that scared me enough that when my aunt began berating my mom, I lashed out at her—which is not what little Asian kids do.

“He is coming back!” I yelled. “And you shouldn’t talk about him like that. He paid for half the stuff in your house!” My aunt, infuriated that a child would dare speak to her like that, responded with a backhand to my face. She slapped me into submission while my mom stood by silently.

Mom didn’t step in to pull me away from the beating; having been beaten all her life by this same sister, she knew that resisting would only prolong it. But after it was over, she pulled me close. “Don’t do that again, Tammy,” she said. She told me there was nothing she could do if my aunt hit me, because we were dependent on her for the roof over our heads. I was stung by the humiliation of feeling so powerless, but I could tell that my mom was grateful I had stood up for her. I also knew that I would never, ever let myself get into a situation where I had to stand by and watch someone innocent being beaten. I would act, even if it wasn’t the smartest thing for self-preservation.

That was a long year for all of us, but at the end of it my dad did come back, just as he’d promised. He loved my mom, my brother, and me—but we weren’t the only reason he returned. As I would come to understand later, my dad also loved the version of himself that he could be in Thailand.

In the States, Frank Duckworth would forever be just another regular joe, a lower-middle-class guy eking out a paycheck in some American town. But in Asia, he was a strapping, six-foot, two-hundred-pound man who towered over most other men. And as discriminatory as Thai culture could be, there was respect for Americans. My dad had a wallet full of U.S. dollars and a Yankee swagger, and he loved feeling like the big man when he was in Thailand.

As the Vietnam War began drawing to a close, most of the American servicemen in Southeast Asia couldn’t wait to get the hell out. But Dad sought out jobs that would keep him in the region, first in Thailand and then in other countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, and Singapore. He didn’t make as much money as he would have in the States, but the salary he got overseas as a foreigner was more than what locals made—another reason he felt like a big man.

Thanks to the skills he’d learned in the Army, he had no trouble finding work; there was always a need for communications experts who could set up telephone switchboards and lines, cable systems, and, later on, satellite dishes and radar stations. He also used the rifle skills he’d learned to build a network of upper-class Thai and Malay contacts by working as a pro at local shooting clubs and winning skeet and trap competitions. Dad was a world-class shooter, even earning a President’s Hundred Tab, awarded to the top one hundred civilian and military marksmen each year. This just added to his big-man mystique, which in turn helped him land more job offers.

We lived a comfortable life in Bangkok, my dad earning enough to send me to kindergarten at Saint John’s, a private Thai school. I learned to read and write in Thai and soon was reading everything I could get my hands on. My mom and I spoke Thai together, and although my dad usually spoke to me in English, I couldn’t really speak it myself. So while I may not have looked like the delicate, lithe Thai girls I went to school with, I still came across as more Thai than American at that time.

Eager for me to fit in, my mom tried to compensate for my being half-white by signing me up for classes in traditional Thai dance. I would rather have been out playing ball, or at home sneaking one of Mom’s Thai romance novels to read, but I gamely clomped around the dance studio, feeling like a giant among the Lilliputians, in hopes of pleasing her. I loved the beauty of Thai dance, even though I couldn’t do it very well. Despite the attitudes of some Thais toward “half children” like myself, I felt proud of my Thai heritage. I still do.

As much as Mom tried to instill Thai-ness into my brother and me, my dad set out to create his own little mythical America in our home. Every Christmas he went crazy with J. C. Penney and Sears catalogues, sending away for decorations, ornaments, and gifts that would arrive, via the APO address Dad got as an overseas servicemember, just in time for the holiday. We’d hang tinsel and large multicolored teardrop lights in the branches of scraggly pine trees that, to this day, I don’t know how he tracked down in Thailand’s tropical climate. Mom got into the holiday spirit too, dressing me up like a doll in itchy wool stockings, red-and-green plaid jumpers, and long-sleeve sweaters, despite Thailand’s hundred-degree heat. And Dad always made sure that Tom and I had those little stockings made of red plastic webbing filled with sticky American candies, which never survived the trip to Asia without melting and resolidifying multiple times.

Decades later, during my wartime service in the equally hot (but distinctly less tropical) climate of Iraq, I would experience a pleasant bit of déjà vu when opening Christmas care packages sent by church groups in the States. I’d tear open a box and revel in the smell of butterscotch candy fused to peppermint drops, packed together with squishy globs of melted fruit jelly slices. It took me right back to my childhood in Bangkok all those years ago.

But even as my dad tried to create a Little America for us, I suspect there was another, darker reason he preferred keeping us in Southeast Asia. Dad’s family history stretched back to before the American Revolution, and his roots in Winchester ran deep. Like many Virginia families, his was split down a historical fault line, with some of his relatives having fought for the North in the Civil War, and many others having fought for the South. My dad never seemed to reconcile his family’s Confederate history with the fact that he had biracial children.

And although it’s difficult to imagine now, at the time my parents met, they couldn’t have legally married in Virginia. It wasn’t until June 1967, when the Supreme Court decided Loving v. Virginia, that people of different races were allowed to marry there—and even then, prejudice and racism against such relationships lingered. I can only surmise that my dad felt more comfortable facing prejudice in another country than right in his own backyard.

As my mom soon found out, he even felt more comfortable taking his young family to a war zone than back to the United States.




Chapter 2

Country Woods

In 1974, my dad took a job stringing telephone wires for a United Nations Development Programme project in Phnom Penh. At the time, Cambodia was embroiled in a violent civil war, with communist Khmer Rouge insurgents seizing territory controlled by the U.S.-backed Khmer Republic, mile by bloody mile. The fighting had been raging for nearly five years, a savage echo of the war going on just across the border in Vietnam.

The situation in Cambodia was dangerously unstable, but at age six, I had no idea about any of that. I loved living in Phnom Penh. In Bangkok, we’d had a small apartment, but here we had a multistory house with a garden. Because we were a UN family, we had security—a gate surrounding the house, with an armed soldier posted out front. I didn’t understand that the guards’ fully loaded rifles were more than just decoration, or that the threat of violence in the capital was real and ever present. I just liked playing with the soldiers and trying to learn enough words in the Khmer language to talk to them.

When I think back on our time in Cambodia, I think of drives down wide boulevards lined with mango trees and bougainvillea flowers. I remember the smell of French boules, crusty and golden, their interiors fragrant with warm, yeasty, deliciously doughy bread. Whenever Mom would take Tom and me to the market, she had to buy two or three at a time, because we would tear into them as soon as we got to the car, devouring an entire boule before the driver got us home. Phnom Penh was colorful and fun, and the people at the market always seemed so friendly.

But then, I remember another scene. My mom and I were in the car, heading to market, and suddenly she grabbed me and shoved me headfirst down to the floorboard. She yelled at the driver to turn around, and I lay there confused, my face flat against the mat and Mom’s hand pressed to the back of my head to keep me from looking up. A bomb had exploded in the market just minutes earlier, and she was desperately trying to protect me from seeing the blood and body parts scattered among the stalls. The driver floored it, and we raced straight back to the house.

Somehow, I still wasn’t scared, even as the bombings inched closer and closer to our home. My parents used to take Tom and me to the roof so we could see the bombs drop over the river and the flares soaring into the sky. “Look, Tammy,” my dad would say. “Look at the pretty fireworks.” I believed they were fireworks, so when I’d hear the sounds of explosions and see the rockets lighting up the sky, I never felt scared.

Dad also brought us to the airfield to see the C-130 planes that sometimes ferried him to Laos and Thailand for work. A couple of times, he brought us along for rides to Bangkok, to see our relatives. My mom wasn’t keen on this, but to me, there was nothing cooler than sitting in the back of one of these big planes, looking out of the lowered tailgate, and seeing jungles, rivers, and villages whiz by below. I couldn’t have imagined then that one day, thirty years later, I’d be piloting my own aircraft over palm groves and villages not so different from these.

Genre:

  • "Raw, unfiltered, powerful, a compelling story of courage and determination against overwhelming odds. Tammy Duckworth is a true warrior who overcame a difficult upbringing, a glass ceiling, and a horrific helicopter shootdown to become one of the most respected senators on Capitol Hill. Nothing can stop her."—Adm. William H. McRaven (US Navy, Ret.), New York Times bestselling author of MAKE YOUR BED
  • "EVERY DAY IS A GIFT isn’t your usual political memoir, but it is a quintessentially American story. Tammy Duckworth’s life journey—from a difficult, peripatetic childhood in Southeast Asia though serving in the U.S. Army, House, and now the Senate—is a story of amazing grit and determination, colored throughout by a love of this country and what it stands for."—Mitt Romney
  • “'Soldier, Senator, Mother'—Tammy Duckworth is all these and more. She’s a woman who overcame childhood poverty, learned to fly, fought for our country—and then created a whole new life for herself when her old one was shattered by enemy fire. The word I would use for Tammy is 'inspiration,' which is what I felt upon reading this remarkable memoir."—Amy Klobuchar
  • “Tammy Duckworth’s inspiring life story reads like a novel, defined by moments of exceptional grace and resilience. As a fellow veteran, I was moved by the gripping account of her service in uniform, including the shoot-down that nearly took her life, the dramatic rescue and her harrowing 13-month recovery. She is an extraordinary leader and an exemplary American, and this book reminds us why.”—Pete Buttigieg
  • “Senator Duckworth’s memoir is a compelling and engrossing narrative that invites readers into her fascinating life… Excellent work that will allow readers to get to know one of today’s most unique political voices. Readers from a wide range of backgrounds will find something to relate to in Duckworth’s story.”—Library Journal (starred review)
  • “With a breezy candor that is, by turns, intimate and assertive, Duckworth offers an affecting account of a life of sacrifice, patriotism, valor, integrity, and grace.”—Booklist (starred review)
  • “Heartfelt memoir from the senator and Iraq War veteran. Despite the scars of discrimination, poverty, and war, [Duckworth’s] commitment to the service of others has never wavered… An inspiring example of the power of determination.”—Kirkus

On Sale
Mar 30, 2021
Page Count
320 pages
Publisher
Twelve
ISBN-13
9781538718490

Tammy Duckworth

About the Author

Senator Tammy Duckworth is a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who has served as the junior United States Senator for Illinois since 2017. A proud Iraq War veteran and helicopter pilot, she represented Illinois's 8th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2017. Before election to office, she served as Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (2009-11) and Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (2006-09).

Learn more about this author