Memorial Day is a national holiday in the United States for remembering the men and women who died while serving their country. There are currently more than 214,000 women serving in the U.S. armed forces, comprising approximately 14.6% of total enlisted personnel.
Although women didn’t begin serving in the armed forces until 1901, women have been on the battlefield since the American Revolution. In fact, the first woman killed by enemy fire was Jemima Warner, who died on December 11, 1775 during the siege of Quebec. Jemima had been travelling with her husband, a private in the Revolutionary Army to nurse him during poor health. Sadly, her husband died on the way to Quebec, but she continued along with the battalion.
359 women died during World War I, mostly from influenza that was sweeping the world at that time. During World War II, 543 women died in combat, 16 from enemy fire. A total of 17 nurses were killed during the Korean War, and 8 died during the Vietnam war. Sixteen women died during Operation Desert Storm. And as of April 2013, more than 143 women deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait had lost their lives in the line of duty. That number has likely increased in the last year.
For more interesting information about women in the military, visit the Women’s Memorial Foundation, or this website, dedicated to telling the history of women in combat.
|Cathy Standiford is passionately committed to improving the lives of women and girls, locally and globally, and advocating for their basic human rights. Cathy served as 2009-2010 President of Soroptimist International of the Americas, LiveYourDream.org’s sponsoring organization: a global volunteer organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.