The young women of today, so cocky and sure of themselves, sometimes forget that they owe their ability to be so sure of themselves to all of the wonderful women warriors who came before them. The women who took over when their husbands, fathers and brothers went off to war and managed the family farms and businesses and kept our economy going. We all owe a debt to these women, some went back to their old routines after the war ended, but many had to keep going in their new roles because the men never came home, or if they came home, they came home wounded and unable to work the farm or in the factory.
Then there were the women who followed the men to war. They became the nurses, the ambulance drivers, the pilots and mechanics. Some learned how to manage the military supply and admin systems and keep things running. They have some fascinating stories when you stop and listen to them.
Take a few minutes and stop and talk to a woman who was the nurse anesthesiologist at the battle of the bulge, or the nurses who were captured and held prisoner during the war. Talk to the ones who left home to serve their country with high hopes of seeing the world, then never got stationed more than 100 miles away from home. Give yourself an hour to talk to the ones who sat at the Nuremburg trials taking dictation, or the ones who were among the first pilots and assigned to ferry aircraft to the men (but who weren't recognized and given credit for it until over 40 years later). Spend some time with the women who were the first in ROTC or the Academies, and discuss how they were treated both there and when they entered active duty. Then talk to the ones who went from being the Women's Air Force and the Women's Army Corp to being accepted into THE Air Force and THE Army.
We are the past, We are the future. Our cockiness and sureness caused us to break all the rules. Many suffered the consequences. Many hit the glass ceiling, but we pushed on and we pushed our sisters through, so that today's young women can do so much more. If you want to talk to the women, if you want to hear their stories, they out there - The Women's Memorial in DC is collecting them along with several other of the National Museums under a special project trying to preserve the memories for future generations. But it's much nicer to hear the stories in person. Take a Veteran out to lunch and ask them about their time in the service. You'll be surprised when you hear the stories they have to tell.
You'll hear about cleaning the grease pits and swabbing decks. You'll hear about midnight raids and long hours of bordom, and times of sheer terror, but you'll also hear about working with people from all over the US and the world. You'll hear about a world that opened the doors to education and housing and opportunities. And you'll hear about trust and faith and working together for a common goal.
Take a Vet to lunch and spend some time talking to them. You'll be glad you did.
I'm the Past Commander of the only All Women's American Legion Post in the State of Missouri, American Legion Post 404 in St Louis. We have some wonderful members, from WWII to women on Active Duty now.