On this Memorial Day when we acknowledge those who have fought and died in the cause of freedom, I want to thank all of the men and women in my family who have served in the military. While not all died in combat, there are many on my father’s side of the family who served in every war and conflict since the American Revolution.
Because I like to celebrate strong women, I thought it would be nice to give a special nod to women who have served and those who have died fighting for justice and freedom. I found an article by Ash Grant that lists the top ten women who changed the military. Among them were Elizabeth C. Newcume who dressed as a man and joined the military September of 1847 in order to fight in the Mexican-American War. When her gender was discovered ten months later, she was immediately discharged, but in 1848, Newcume was given a land grant for 160 acres, as well as a soldier’s pay for ten months of service.
During the Civil War Mary Walker served as the assistant surgeon in the Army of the Cumberland in 1863. She had been the only women to get a medical degree from Syracuse University and was a champion for equal rights for women. She served with honor and became the first and only woman in the entire military force to have ever received the Congressional Medal of Honor for her actions and duties during the Civil War.
Another woman to challenge the status quo was Loretta Walsh, who joined the navy in 1917 as WWI was heating up. While other women had served in the navy as clerks or nurses, they were treated as civilians, and Walsh became the first female Chief Yeoman. Once armistice was declared, Walsh was put on inactive reserve, but still carried out her duties as a yeoman.
Then there was Oveta Culp Hobby from Texas who was married to William Hobby, ex-governor of Texas and owner of the Houston Chronicle. During the early years of WWII, Oveta worked at the newspaper as an editor but later decided to join the Women’s Army Corps. These women were the first to wear uniform after the military nurses. Oveta was promoted through the ranks, eventually becoming a colonel and in 1945 was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the first woman to ever receive the medal.
You can read more about these women, as well as the rest of the top ten HERE
Ms. Grant started her article with this joke from comedian Elayne Boosler, and it tickled my funny bone, so I will share it. “We have women in the military but they don’t put us in the front lines. They don’t know if we can fight, if we can kill. I think we can. All the general has to do is walk over to the women and say, ‘You see the enemy over there? They say you look fat in those uniforms.”
If you would like to mention anyone from your family who deserves a special “Thank You” today, please feel free to add the name in a comment. And do enjoy your Memorial Day.