Veterans

October 22, 2012

Service members, vets celebrate military legacy of women

Hundreds of active-duty women and veterans turned out Oct. 20 at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery to celebrate the legacy of more than 2.5 million women who have served in the nation’s military.

Former WACs, WAVEs, WMs, WAFs and SPARS shared with their active-duty counterparts in the contributions women have made to the U.S. military that are enshrined at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, dedicated by President Bill Clinton Oct. 18, 1997.

While WIMSA serves as a memorial to all of America’s service women, Wilma L. Vaught, president of the Women’s Memorial Foundation, said she doesn’t consider it a museum, though the building does contain a gift store and features numerous artifacts and photographic exhibits.

“This is more than a memorial; it’s an educational center meant to tell the story of women in the military from the American Revolution through Iraq — it was an opportunity to tell the story of women’s service individually and collectively,” said Vaught, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1957 and went on to retire as a brigadier general in 1985 as one of only seven women serving as general or flag officers in all of the services at the time.

Vaught said WIMSA was also created because many women going back to World War II felt they never received recognition for all they did – from the nurse corps of the Army and Navy to the Army Air Corps WASPs who delivered fighter and bomber aircraft across the country. WIMSA also honors all women who served overseas during conflicts such as those who served with the Red Cross, USO and Special Services.

“They deserved recognition, because they changed the military and they changed life in America for women [and] because they stepped out and did things women hadn’t done before. … They created a new day for women,” she said. “Many of today’s military women go through the memorial and realize for the first time what women in the military did before them.

“We stand on the shoulders of all these women who met up with all kinds of obstacles and barricades and they overcame them,” Vaught added. “Today, they can say, ‘I can have a career, I can have the opportunities for education, I can have a family and be in the military, when they couldn’t stay in the military if they were pregnant.”

The afternoon ceremony included memories from active duty or retired speakers from each service branch who told the stories of why they served and the challenges they faced at the point in history in which they joined.

Speakers included Allison A. Hickey, undersecretary of veterans affairs for benefits and a retired brigadier general, whose military career started when she graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1980 — the first class to include women. Too many women veterans just fade away, she said, not thinking too much about their service after they leave the military.

She encouraged women veterans to stand proudly and declare themselves veterans, and did so herself. No fewer than 10 other women stood and joined in the declaration.

Keynote speaker Jessica L. Wright, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, was the Army National Guard’s first woman CH-47 Chinook aviator. She began her association with the Army by enlisting in 1975, obtained her bachelor’s degree and retired as a major general in 2010 after commanding the Pennsylvania National Guard.

“There’s not a better or [more] fitting place to pause and reflect on those contributions than here at the Women’s Memorial.” She said. “It is a wonderful testament of the power of women in the service to our country. This monument honors the legacy and the proud and distinguished service of women. With every passing day, there is a new and enthusiastic group of young women who join the list of forbearers that we honor here today. They have the same determination and courage that runs through our current serving women that was in our predecessors.”

WIMSA Foundation officials hope to have 250,000 women veterans in the memorial’s historical record by the end of the year. Vaught said they’re just 301 shy that figure, and that she’s confident the foundation will reach its goal.

What she’s less sure about, she said, is raising the $3 million needed annually to meet payroll and maintenance of the 33,000 square-foot education center. She said the memorial has an average of about 150,000 visitors a year. “Not too bad a number,” she added, “but I had hoped that given there’s about 4.5 million who visit Arlington every year, we would see about 500,000 visitors. I think that would solve our economic problems.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines August 28, 2014

News: After F-15 jet crash in Virginia, rescue helicopters search for pilot - Helicopters are searching for an Air National Guard pilot after his F-15 jet crashed in the mountains of Virginia this morning, military officials said.   Business: U.S. Air Force 3DELRR contract expected soon - The U.S. Air Force could award the contract for its...
 
 

News Briefs August 28, 2014

Russian directing new offensive in Ukraine The Obama administration believes Russia is leading a new military counteroffensive in Ukraine. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says Russia has sent additional columns of tanks and armored vehicles into its neighbor’s territory. She says the incursions suggest a ìRussian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway in the contested e...
 
 
LM-C5

Double Deuce

A U.S. Air Force crew ferried the 22nd C-5M Super Galaxy from the Lockheed Martin facilities in Marietta, Ga., Aug. 25. Aircraft 86-0011 was ferried by a crew led by Maj. Gen. Dwyer L. Dennis, Director, Global Reach Programs, O...
 

 
Northrop Grumman photograph

First ever RQ-4 Global Hawk hits 100th flight on NASA mission

Northrop Grumman photograph A historical look at the first Global Hawk (AV1) during its maiden flight over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Feb. 28, 1998. AV1 has made history again with its 100th flight in support of NASA en...
 
 

Northrop Grumman’s CIRCM system completes U.S. Army flight testing

Northrop Grumman’s Common Infrared Countermeasures system recently completed another round of U.S. Army testing by demonstrating its capabilities on a UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter. The flight test was conducted at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., by the Redstone Test Center. The Northrop Grumman CIRCM system was subjected to rigorous conditions over a six-week period, after...
 
 
NASA photograph by David Olive

NASA completes successful battery of tests on composite cryotank

https://www.youtube.com/embed/qkGI6JeNY0E?enablejsapi=1&rel=0 NASA photograph by David Olive One of the largest composite cryotanks ever built recently completed a battery of tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Cen...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>