The Military Women’s Memorial is the only national memorial that documents and celebrates the vital and long-overlooked contributions of women in our nation’s military history. This Women’s History Month, you can help Lady Vet support their mission to honor all women, past and present, who serve our nation. During the month of March, a portion of all purchases made in the Lady Vet Shop will be donated directly to the Military Women’s Memorial.
From the earliest days of our nation’s founding, women have willingly served alongside men to secure and maintain liberty. But until just a few decades ago, it was difficult to find women in the story of America’s military history. All of that changed with the creation of the Military Women’s Memorial, a one of a kind tribute to America’s servicewomen of the past and present.
THE OVERLOOKED WOMEN OF WORLD WAR II
When the Vietnam Memorial was dedicated in 1983, women’s contributions to war had not yet been recognized in any significant way. More than 350,000 women served in World War II alone. With the Vietnam War happening several decades after World War II, many of these women officially felt snubbed.
Some of them approached Congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar, who researched the issue and found that women were almost never included when the nation honored its Veterans. She held hearings to establish a national women Veterans memorial while the American Veterans Committee lobbied congress and rallied support from the DoD, the VA, the American Legion, and numerous other Veteran groups.
CREATING A MEMORIAL TO HONOR ALL WOMEN VETERANS
In 1985, the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation (WIMSA) was officially incorporated. The next year President Ronald Reagan signed PL-610 into law. This bill authorized the establishment of a memorial on federal lands “to honor women who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States.”
But making that memorial a reality was a lengthy process. A design and architectural firm were chosen in 1989 and construction began in 1995. After many years of careful planning, the Military Women’s Memorial officially opened to the public in 1997, encouraging women to take their rightful—and visible—place in history for all time.
FEATURES OF THE WOMEN’S MEMORIAL
The heart of the memorial is the Register, where visitors get a unique look at some of the individual stories that make up the collective history of women’s service. An interactive, digital database holds the names, photos, service data, awards, decorations, and memorable experiences of more than 300,000 servicewomen registered with the memorial. Despite likely being the largest register of military women in the world, this number still represents less than 10 percent of women who have served in the US Armed Forces. The Women’s Memorial seeks to preserve the stories of all women who served so they won’t be lost to history.
The Hall of Honor
Here, the Women’s Memorial pays tribute to the servicewomen who were killed in action, died in the line of duty, held prisoner of war, or received our nation’s highest awards for service and bravery. Inside the Hall of Honor are three special slabs of marble cut 70 years earlier from the same piece of marble used for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Military Women’s Memorial Collection
This collection includes more than 8,000 donations representing America’s servicewomen from all eras and service branches. Together, these items bring to life the firsthand experiences of America’s servicewomen. The collection includes photos, film footage, uniforms, insignia, military documents, letters, diaries, and more.
In 2020, the Women’s Memorial unveiled the first and only monument in our nation’s capital to honor all women of the US Military. It is a life size bronze statue of a military working dog handler and her canine. The job is grueling and dangerous; and the statue is meant to encourage all women to realize their strength of character and capabilities.
DESIGNED WITH PURPOSE
There is no signage for the Women’s Memorial, so it’s important to know where to look. It sits behind the curved ceremonial wall at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery, a hidden gem filled with meaningful design features and details.
The Military Women’s Memorial sits on the historic line that connects the Lincoln Memorial to Arlington House. This line created a symbolic link between the North and South after the Civil War. It’s represented by a trail of pavers running from the Lincoln Memorial through the center of Memorial Drive, extending onto the Women’s Memorial Court of Valor, and into the Register room holding the individual stories of Women’s military service.
Other select features of the memorial include:
- Glass tablet skylights running the length of the exhibit gallery, etched with quotes by and about military women
- A reflecting pool in the Court of Valor with a 200-jet fountain representing women’s voices
- Stunning views of the Washington Monument and Arlington National Cemetery from the upper terrace
For more than 30 years now, the memorial has worked to permanently document women’s military experiences and their impact; not just on the military, but on women’s history and America itself. From the American Revolution to the armed conflicts of today, America’s military women have long demonstrated courage, patriotism, and leadership. History is not complete until every military woman’s story is told.
The Military Women’s Memorial is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that relies on the generosity of donors and sponsors to keep their mission moving forward. The memorial is free and open to the public seven days a week. To learn more, plan your visit, or register your story of service, visit the Women’s Memorial website. And make sure to check them out on Facebook and Instagram!
SHOP WITH LADY VET AND SUPPORT THE CAUSE
It’s Women’s History Month! This March, a portion of all Lady Vet purchases will be donated directly to the Military Women’s Memorial. Shop with us and help continue the work of the only national memorial preserving the legacy of all women Veterans.
Lady Vet is supportive of nonprofit organizations doing the best work for women Veterans. If you know of a relevant nonprofit we should be highlighting, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.