Women in Military Service for America Marks its 20th Anniversary

“Let the generations know that the women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom,” Anne S. (Sosh) Brehm 1LT, USA NC, World War II.

Drawing about 200,000 visitors a year, The Women in Military Service for America Memorial, at the Ceremonial Entrance to Arlington National Cemetery, is the only major national memorial honoring all women who have defended America throughout history.

Congressional resolutions to honor military women were introduced by Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) and Congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar (D-OH). The Women’s Memorial was dedicated on October 18, 1997.

The patriotism and bravery of women who served is an integral part of our nation’s heritage. The draft for men ended after Vietnam, but there was never a draft for women. They were never forced to put on the uniform – they have always volunteered, and that is something special that every woman who has ever sworn to defend our country should remember.

The patriotism and bravery of women who served is an integral part of our nation’s heritage.

Roughly three million women have served in the US military throughout its history, some going back to the Revolutionary War. A goal of the memorial is to have all three million included in its official register, a database that includes facts about all of the individual women and their service.

“The database is truly our treasure. It’s the heart of our memorial,” said the memorial foundation’s spokeswoman, Marilla Cushman, who retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel after a 25-year military career.

Cushman encouraged all female veterans to register. She said family members light up when they enter the memorial and retrieve information about their loved ones. Conversely, visitors are disappointed when they look up a family member only to find they are not included and their information is missing.

“It’s their opportunity to take their rightful place in history, and it will be there for generations to come,” she said.

So far only about 269,000 of the three million women who served are registered. Women can register themselves through a form on the memorial’s website. Family members can also register a woman. The registry is not online out of privacy concerns; visitors must come to the memorial to view it.

Those honored are all US servicewomen, regardless of service – past, present and future. The memorial includes living or deceased women veterans who were; Active Duty, Reserve, Guard, US Public Health Service, and women in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Civil Air Patrol.

It’s their opportunity to take their rightful place in history, and it will be there for generations to come

The Memorial also honors women who served overseas during conflicts, in direct support of the armed forces. That includes organizations such as the Red Cross, USO, and members of the US Public Health Service Cadet Nurse Corps.

Although women have always volunteered in defense of our nation, many of their contributions have been forgotten and are not recorded in today’s history books.

The Women’s Memorial Foundation Office of History & Collections houses official and personal records, oral histories, photographs, and other memorabilia to help portray women’s record of service and citizenship.

The Foundation is seeking names, addresses, photos and memorable experiences of women who have served to be included in the Memorial’s Register, an interactive computer database available at the Memorial. Deceased servicewomen from any era or those civilian women who served with other civilian organizations can be registered by family members, friends, and organizations.

Katherine Sharp Landdeck, an associate professor of history at Texas Woman’s University who has researched women’s military history, said the memorial fills a valuable role. “The story of women serving in the American military gets forgotten,” she said. “The memorial is a gathering place where people can see what these women have done.”

Did you serve? If yes, please join your Sisters in Arms in registering as a Member of the Memorial. Add your name to the roll call of heroic women who have served this nation!

If you, your wife, sister, daughter, niece, neighbor, or any woman you know is serving or has served – or if any of them are thinking about serving – this is YOUR memorial. It’s a place to come and reflect on what it means to be a woman warrior, and that being a woman in the military is an honor.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Dr. Katherine Harris

Dr. Katherine (Kat) Harris is a veteran spouse, expat, and former military contractor with over 20 years of expertise in military/family transition, career counseling, higher education, organizational strategic planning, and international relations. She has conducted seminars and workshops for many Department of Army commands, plus many non-profit and community associations. She served as a translator and liaison for American, British, French, and German civilian/military communities in Berlin and Helmstedt, Germany. Academically, Dr. Harris holds a Bachelor of Science in Management Studies from The University of Maryland European Division, a Master of Arts in International Relations from Boston University, and a Doctorate in Education from Rowan University with an emphasis in leadership and higher education in a global context.

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