Nina Talbot

Painter - Writer
painting, Zenobia Marion, by Nina Talbot
Zenobia Marion, oil on canvas, 48 x 42 inches


Zenobia Marion

Iraq, U.S. Army, 82nd Division Airborne, Patriot missile loader
Dates of service: 1997-98

[Zenobia Marion was interviewed by Nina Talbot in Zenobia’s home in Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn on December 2, 2011. Edited by Tracey Cassius.]

“I was an old soldier.”
-Zenobia Marion, December 2, 2011

“I grew up in a big house with thirteen siblings in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. My childhood was greatly influenced by my tight knit family life, where weekly Friday family dinners were the highlight of the week. The military has always been a part of the Marion family; my father was a WWII veteran, which had always left me fascinated by military service.

“For most of my adult life, I worked in corporate America. After graduating from Columbia University I worked in various fields including human resources, public relations, community affairs and politics. I was ready for a transition in my life and wanted to travel the world. When I was thirty years old I enlisted in the U.S. Army as a full-time soldier, fulfilling a childhood dream.

“While in the military I was able to find my inner voice, but military life was not the fantasy that I envisioned when I was a child. My job was to escort the Colonel in her Humvee. During my service I was stationed throughout the Middle East; in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO). My commanding officer was seventeen years old . I learned to set boundaries from military life and saw it from an varied and mixed perspective. However, I was able to find moments of solace in the beautiful pink and yellow sunsets.

“I was undergoing training for the Patriot Missile System when the Gulf War was won. During the war I felt the devastation of bombed out buildings and the physical reality of war. One afternoon while shopping for Persian rugs after duty a bus full of Iraqi kids drove past me, shouting from the windows, ‘Hey N_____!’ I was left wondering, ‘What am I doing here fighting a war for them? ”