We come from all over the country and from different backgrounds. We are the American Woman who have been left a legacy of strength, courage, and perseverance, from generations of women who went before us. Our legacy comes from the women on the Mayflower, to the pioneer women headed out west, and to the women of the World Wars who defied the typical roles and became nurses, farmers, and soldiers to today where women are now doctors, pilots, and leaders in our communities.
Women have always played an important part in history. In England there were women who defied their roles and led armies to build empires. From Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine to Queen Elizabeth I to Queen Victoria and to each woman who had to say good-bye to their husbands and sons, often being left alone for years to care for their families and homes. Over the centuries women have inherited their spirit and courage from women like these.
In America, that tradition continued with women like Margaret Corbin, who in November of 1776, fought alongside her husband at Fort Washington. She later became the first woman in U.S. history to receive a pension from Congress forbmilitary service. Also, during the Revolutionary War, there were women like Deborah Samson and Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley who took up the cause of freedom and not only kept the home fires burning till their husbands came home, but took up arms themselves being one of many of the first unofficial women in the military.
From the War of 1812 to the Civil War, ordinary women like Lydia Bacon, Harriet Tubman, and Dorothea Dix defied the roles society placed upon them to help build our country and to pave the way for women today. Many women during the Civil War, both in North and the South, served as nurses and spies. And others dressed like men to fight for a cause they believed in. And after their homes were destroyed, it was the genteel women who had to put the past behind them to help rebuild the south.
We have the strength of the pioneer women who travelled for months across country in covered wagons working alongside their husbands, experiencing and surviving hardships. We may not know their names but their lives were full of adversity and tears that would inspire the future generations of women, with courage and hope for a better future.
In WWI, women had the opportunity to prove themselves in a male dominated world with over 25,000 American women serving overseas and countless others on the home front who kept the home fires burning and the defense plants running.
WWII saw women emerging from the home once again and fighting the injustices of this world war by building ships and planes and then flying the planes across the Atlantic to Britain. They served in places like Corregidor and Bataan, with 78 nurses taken prisoner in 1942, surviving 3 years of hardships, and finally liberated in 1945. Nurses landed with the army on the Beaches of Africa, Anzio, and Normandy setting up field hospitals. Red Cross workers went to the front lines to bring coffee, donuts, and a touch of home to the brave men in uniform.
It was also the women on the home front who said good bye to their loved ones, and while leaving their comfortable homes and jobs and took up jobs at Defense Plants all over the country. As more men were drafted, these women rose to the occasion to make sure the soldiers got what they needed in supplies and food.
They were everyday women who faced the issues of the day with a quiet but strong spirit. They left behind a legacy of courage and determination.
Today our roles are significantly different from our founding mothers. We are no longer needed to fight off the enemy in our own backyard, we travel by plane and not by covered wagon, and we fight along with our Soldiers, Sailors and Marines as equals. We are mothers, career women, or both, and most of us are also military moms, wives and sweethearts. We are left behind to handle things on the home front while putting our fears behind us living day by day, moment by moment, like the women that have gone before us with the same courage and determination, shaping our families and our country for future generations.
– We are the American Woman –