Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom. That our resolve was just as great as the brave men who stood among us. And with victory our hearts were just as full and beat just as fast - that the tears fell just as hard for those we left behind. -World War II Army Nurse
Those thoughts are etched in glass at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial just outside Arlington Cemetery. Military heroes are often defined by the awards they are given for bravery and courage in the face of battle. Many ordinary military personnel have exhibited extraordinary bravery under conditions other than direct combat, but may not have been recognized for awards. This is very common for women, since most women, until recently, have not had a hand in the offensive operations of war.
During the Civil War, women who were spies as well as soldiers (once they were discovered to be female) were usually traded back to their side with the understanding they would not re-emerge as combatants. Other women have not been so lucky. There were 83 women who were POWs during World War II, two during Desert Storm, and three during the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Over 140 military women have given their lives for their country in the last 10 years. If killed or wounded in action, they receive the Purple Heart. Just like their male comrades, they’re putting it all on the line in the service of our country.