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BlueWolf's Howl

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May 07, 2002

The Presence of Women

"So, what do you think of women being drafted?" I've heard this question many times as both a soldier and a civilian. I've always believed that there were women who were very capable of handling any position - yes, even a combat position. Of course, there are some women I would not want to be on my team when the going gets rough, but there's a number of men that would also make that list (and some were in the Army). But still, it's an opinion based on ability and character - not gender. I guess that makes me a feminist.

Many women have been role models and an inspiration to me throughout my life. And the list keeps growing. Some of these women have been public figures, while others have been personal acquaintances. One of the most interesting was a woman who lived in my apartment building in Arlington, VA. We met in the laundry room. She noticed my uniform and struck up a conversation with me about being a woman in the military. She was a WAC in WWII.

I was reminded of this encounter by an article on NPR about the 60 year "Rosie the Riveter" reunion. I was impressed by the plain and unimposing voice and attitude of a woman who had been in an extraordinary situation. As she speaks, you notice that her experiences were "just something she did" at one time in her life. From my perspective, she was one of many women who showed us how powerful we are as women.

The article follows on the heels of a previous report about the Untold Stories of Women in Espionage exhibit. Although some of the women mentioned in the report are famous (Josephine Baker, Julia Child), they also mention lesser-known women who also participated in espionage (Virginia Hall). This article led me to The Women of the S.O.E. website. There I found the stories of a number of women agents. Yes, women in places we are normally told we don't belong... it's too dangerous.

These were the women of their time - doing extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances. And when the war was over, they were told to go back to their homes and go on with their lives. The riveter eventually married one of the men who read the notes she left in the planes she built. They've been married for over 50 years. Some of the women of the S.O.E. were executed during the war. The ones who survived are now in their sunset years. Their unusual lives have not spared them the aging process, nor has it aged them beyond their years. But, they proved through their life's experiences that they have already done the things that this generation debates.

Posted by BlueWolf on May 7, 2002 02:07 AM