Military Women Remember Fallen Comrades
(May 29, 2008)
|ARLINGTON, VA - May 26, 2008|
Defense Dept. photo by Gerry
||A group of past and
present military women gathered at the Women in
Military Service for America Memorial at
Arlington National Cemetery here today to
commemorate fallen comrades and celebrate
women's contributions to the nation's defense.
WIMSA's annual Memorial Day observance
highlights the selfless duty and sacrifice
provided by all of America's servicemembers,
said retired Army Reserve Command Sgt. Maj. Sue
Anne Pierce, the event's keynote speaker.
“As I stand here with you
today, I think of our soldiers,
Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard
members, who willingly serve this country –
women and men – ready to make the ultimate
sacrifice for this nation,
because they love this country, and they are
compelled to keep us free,” Pierce said.
“As we continue to celebrate Memorial Day
please help me and my foundation keep their memory alive;
and let's not forget their families, who serve as well,”
added Pierce, who serves as the president of the U.S. Army
Women's Foundation. |
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, WIMSA
foundation president, said that during the women's memorial
groundbreaking ceremony in June 1995, “we began a tradition
of having a servicewoman or veteran from each of the five
services speak at our ceremonies, because Memorial Day pays
tribute – individually or collectively – to all the women
who have ever served or served today.”
“Who better to speak for them, than one of them?” Vaught
noted. Two years later, she said, the memorial started an
annual Memorial Day tribute to comrades who had died over
the past year by dropping rose petals into the memorial's
The guest service speakers at this year's Memorial Day
ceremony were Army Col. Carolyn Jones, Marine Sgt. Danielle
Holladay, retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Anna
Der-Vartanian, Air National Guard Master Sgt. Karen
Marshall, and Coast Guard Lt. Aja Kirksey.
Der-Vartanian joined the Navy in 1943. About 16 years later
she became the Navy's first master chief petty officer, the
highest enlisted grade.
“I'm here to represent and remember all of the women and men
of the Navy who have served our wonderful country so proudly
and so well,” Der-Vartanian said. “I place these rose petals
in tribute and in memory to all of them.”
Marshall spoke of her desire to “reflect and remember our
past and present servicemembers and their legacy of
sacrificial service, for they truly understand this
statement: Freedom is not free.”
Navy Capt. Elizabeth S. Niemyer, who has been selected for
promotion to rear admiral lower half, noted that May 13
marked the 100th anniversary of the Navy Nurse Corps.
“Today, the (Navy) Nurse Corps, totaling 4,100 strong, knows
first-hand the injuries and illnesses borne from war,”
Niemyer said. “We serve around the globe, in Iraq and
Afghanistan, on the front lines of the war and on the home
front of America.
“Thanks to the generations of Navy nurses who have moved us
forward through other wars, we have a solid formation in
which to meet the challenges of tomorrow,” Niemyer said.
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeanne Holm, the author of the
1982 book, “Women in the Military: An Unfinished
Revolution,” was on hand to meet with other military women
veterans and those serving in the present-day.
“The revolution is over,” Holm said at the conclusion of the
ceremony. “It's over; the women are now totally integrated
into the armed forces. There are hardly any restrictions of
any kind, anymore.”
Today's military women “are able to do their part and serve
their country in a way that they can best serve it,” Holm
By Gerry J.
American Forces Press Service
Forces Press Service / DoD
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