I make no secret that I think the U.S. military is a great opportunity to empower women, be it for a career or a single term of service, notwithstanding the continuing state of hostilities around the globe. That, however, is not the actual point of this post. I was not personally present, but an individual that I trust was in a meeting in the early fall of 1990 when the U.S. was working to establish the coalition that would take offensive action to recover Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation. In the course of discussing the size and composition of the U.S. Army forces that would be brought from Germany, allegedly the question was posed as to if it would be possible to have all male forces in deference to the Arab culture. The immediate response by a very high ranking officer was along the lines of, “No, women are too intergal a part of the Army to even consider that.” That declaration was accepted and the discussion continued.
For the record, that same country later contributed to help establish the Women in the Military Service of America Memorial that is on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetary. It is a lovely building with a wonderful chronology of women in the military and is a place that I highly recommend you visit when you are in Washington, D.C. One of the important aspects of the museum is their database of women who have served, or are serving in the military, but a lot of women don’t know about this. That is especially true for those women who may have served in WW II or Korea. You might also be surprised if you check into your own family history to discover female relatives who served in different capacities, and who are eligible to be entered into the database. I used a vignette from a dear friend about one of her relatives to develop a scene in my novel Irises to Ashes that dealt with women who were trained as pilots to ferry aircraft overseas in a non-combat role. While the scene was fictional, that historical aspect was accurate.
You can check into the museum through their web site of http://www.womensmemorial.org/, and please do consider adding the museum to your next trip. If you live in the Washington, D.C./Northern VA area and haven’t been, be sure to put it on your list.