I had the honor of participating in a retirement service at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial a few years ago. I had time to walk around and view the art, video and photo exhibits, there is so much to see. A wave of emotion hit me as I realized that I was a member of an exclusive club where the requirements are bravery, courage and dedication to our nation. I didn’t realize that a silent group of women were watching me and they approached and hugged me like a long-lost sister. They were museum docents, the women who volunteer their time to keeping the museum alive. They were women who’d served in the military as nurses, doctors, and in recent more direct combat roles, understand my sacrifice and my tears.
Congressional resolutions to honor military women were introduced by Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) and Congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar (D-OH). Signed into law by President Reagan in November 1986. The Women’s Memorial is the only major national memorial honoring all Servicewomen, a number that exceeds 2.5 million. It was a struggle to get the museum project off the ground because the costs would exceed 22 million dollars and require 2.5 million dollars in yearly operating costs. Despite the fundraising efforts of a determined group of women World War II veterans the memorial is in danger of closing due to rising financial concerns. In an interview with NBC News, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, a Vietnam veteran and president of the board of directors of the Women in Military Service Foundation, described the financial situation as ‘iffy’. The memorial remained afloat thanks to a $1.6 million congressional appropriation and a special fundraising drive that’s brought in $250,000. But paying bills remains a challenge, Vaught said. “You’re constantly wondering if you’re going to get enough money to pay for the rent, pay for the electricity for the building, pay for the people that work,”
The original supporters of the memorial are dying off with many of them in their mid-eighties. It is time for the generation of women that have served to step up and participate in the efforts to preserve our history. REGISTER, DONATE, PARTICIPATE it is time for us to tell our story. There have been too many instances where women in service have been overlooked because we have not used our voice. The day I visited the memorial I told my story and it is now forever preserved. Women suffer the same it is not necessary to suffer in silence.
For more information visit: www.memorial.org