The Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Many people near me are preparing for their annual trek to “the shore” to welcome the newest summer season. We will make the trip this year along the crowded Atlantic City Expressway, not as a traditional event, but to celebrate our middle grandson’s 8th birthday. What a great place for an 8 year old to kick off his new year and the unofficial start of summer!
Aside from the cookouts and parties there will parades and memorial services throughout our country to remember the people who died while serving in our armed forces. Originally known as Decoration Day, the tradition began in the years following the Civil War and became a federal holiday in 1971.
Women were instrumental in decorating the graves of the fallen soldiers and today this remains a common event. Passing by a cemetery on Memorial Day may offer a colorful visual of red, white and blue.
Since the American Revolution women have volunteered in defense of our great nation. Over 24,000 women served in World War I, filling nursing roles and adminstrative defense jobs as well as a number of combat-related positions. Throughout the history of war there have always been women in combat related jobs. I have been surprised by the numbers in some of the research I am doing. I do not remember learning about women combat heroes as a child, but I am reading about them now. Rather fascinating, but not shocking from an ability standpoint.
Today more than 200,000 women are in active duty military. This includes close to 70 generals and admirals. About 3% of enlisted women were in front-line units in a 2013 report. While there was an official ban on combat, women who servied in Iraq and Afghanistan routinely found themselves engaged in firefight. Women made up 67 of the 3500 American soldiers killed in Iraq and 33 of the 1700 killed in Afghanistan. More than 900 other women soldiers were wounded.
I am glad I did some research on this topic. It gives me a better understanding of the roles women have played in the armed services, and a reminder that Memorial Day is an important day.
Enjoy your long weekend! Maybe I will see you on the ACE! Oh, and happy birthday Luke!!