The quote might be slightly off. But it is my best recollection of what she said as I interviewed her and two other ladies about their work, that spirited the movement resulting the Canadian government's creating Women's History Month in October of each year. That was 25 years ago this past October. (Oft mentioned in past blogs here.)
About 65 miles south of Boston, in a place called New Bedford, there was a special gathering of several hundred veterans, serving military members, politicians and the public for a very important event. An event that, like my late mother said, was their way of sitting down and forcing all to recognize what they had to say... and what they had done.
And they had done a lot! It was May of 2014, and the women were having their day.
The occasion was the unveiling of their Women in Military Service Monument. It is located in the south end of New Bedford at the Fort Taber/Fort Rodman Military Museum. It honours all women who served in the military from the days of the Revolutionary War to present.
The Canadian movement for the month of recognition had its start, in part by complaints that all the history books in Canada seem to be by men... and about men.
How ironic, that at New Bedford one of the speakers noted that ..."the books written, films made and songs sung were overwhelmingly about the men who served. The women were relegated to a footnote."
But times are changing. Women are now being heard, though most should agree... not often enough.
A recent net statistics says that back in 2011 there were close to 1/4 million women serving in US uniform. At the unveiling, New Bedford's Mayor said that at the time, there were 2.2 MILLION female veterans in the country.
Back in the Revolutionary War there were women serving. Some hiding their sex, some not. Same thing in the Civil War. Females dressed as males were killed at Gettysburg. 33,000 were in uniform during WWl, and 500,000 in WWll. some 120,000 uniformed up in Korea and 7,000 served in Vietnam. About 44,000 served in the Gulf War and in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars about 200,000 served, 200 paying with their lives as of 2017.
One speaker at the unveiling said that women often have trouble seeing themselves as warriors and that they did not storm the beaches and carry weapons. I think the comment is a little dated, but that aside most quickly noted that the women never the less ought to be treated as warriors for their care and comfort provided to the sick and wounded, often pretty close, if not actually at the front lines in many a conflict.
The country needs to recognize not only the incredible contributions those from the Commonwealth have played over the years, but also to not forget their efforts during the Civil War. Almost 1 in 10 of its soldiers and sailors were killed in that war, close to half from disease.
Almost 300 Medals of Honor were credited to the Commonwealth, the third highest in the entire country. Of these 148 were for Civil War actions, and 17 of these came to Canadians or those with connections to Canada.
Speaking of the Medal of Honor, I trust you have read much about this lady in past blogs here. A women who must also be included of those being honoured with the New Bedford monument.
President Johnson took up the cause and issued the order to see to it that she got her medal. The date of the order, you might want to remember. It was on November 11 1865... as evidenced below.
If you are ever in the Boston area, take an hour drive south to New Bedford and visit this memorial and pay your respects to the service of the women who are far too often forgotten by the men of the day.
Here is a map of the Southern part of the Commonwealth...
And here is a closer view of the southern New Bedford area and where the memorial stands today...
That's all for today.
See you on Sunday I hope.