Memorial Day Ceremony Celebrates Women’s Military Service
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 28, 2007 Women in uniform have performed illustrious service in the U.S. military in the past and they continue to serve with distinction to the present day, a senior Coast Guard officer said here today.
Marine Cpl. Ashley A. Mohr drops rose petals into a reflecting pool as part of the May 28, 2007, Women in Military Service for America Memorial’s annual Memorial Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery, Va. Defense Dept. photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“On this Memorial Day, as we remember the men and women who gallantly gave up their lives for this nation, let us also celebrate their legacy,” Vice Adm. Vivien S. Crea, vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, told about 160 attendees at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial’s annual Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
“Through their ultimate sacrifice they have inspired the very best in those they were with and in generations of those who follow in their lead,” said Crea, the ceremony’s keynote speaker.
About 15 percent of today’s active-duty military members are women, Crea said, noting that one in every seven U.S. servicemembers deployed in Iraq today is a woman.
Today’s “courageous and selfless military women in all the armed forces serve with distinction alongside their male counterparts throughout this country and around the world in virtually every specialty and theater of operations,” she said.
Women’s military service “symbolizes the pride, strength, realism and idealism of this great nation,” Crea said. “You are our next greatest generation and I thank you on behalf of every man and women in the United States of America.”
The WIMSA foundation’s president, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, was on hand to greet attendees, noting the women’s memorial will celebrate its 10th anniversary this fall.
It’s a WIMSA tradition, Vaught noted, to have servicewomen or veterans speak at the organization’s annual Memorial Day observance.
“This memorial pays tribute, individually and collectively, to all of the women who have served,” Vaught said. “And, who better to speak for them than one of them.” Another tradition is the tossing of rose petals into the Women’s Memorial reflecting pool, she said.
One former and four present-day women servicemembers spoke during the event: former Army Spc. Antoinette V. Scott, Marine Cpl. Ashley A. Mohr, Navy Chief Petty Officer Diane Paddock, Air Force Master Sgt. Lisa D. Crawford, and Coast Guard Lt. Eva J. Van Camp.
Scott, 37, is an Iraq war veteran who was medically retired because of wounds she’d received in November 2003 when an improvised explosive device detonated as she was driving her five-ton truck in Baghdad.
“We are here to honor Memorial Day because we have served in one of the U.S. armed forces or we know someone who has served,” Scott, a Washington, D.C., resident, said.
Scott urged her fellow veterans to “look deeper into ourselves, pay tribute to all who have fallen, and most of all make your story the way you definitely want to be remembered.”
“I am very proud of all the women I’ve heard today. I thought they spoke very well,” said 92-year-old World War II veteran Ruthanna Maxwell Weber, a Chevy Chase, Md., resident, who attended the event in her dark blue Navy lieutenant’s uniform.
WIMSA’s Memorial Day observance is “a great opportunity for us to show that women are really there” and contributing throughout today’s military, while also honoring their past accomplishments, Weber said.