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HATS OFF TO WOMEN

How many women have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor? Do you know the name of the only female Four Star General? Who was the first woman in combat? All these questions and many more can be discovered during March as the US celebrates Women's History Month. This is a wonderful time to research and learn about some of the women who have had such a profound effect on our country.

Betsy Ross, Clara Barton, Dr. Mary Walker, Rose Will Monroe, Major General Jeanne Holm and General Ann Dunwoody are a few of the famous women who have contributed to the armed forces of the United States.

Betsy Ross will always be known as the first creator of the Stars and Stripes. Clara Barton started the American Red Cross in 1881 and served as head of that organization for twenty three years. Women have also served in many non-traditional jobs as machinists, physicians and pilots. Everyone knows the name of "Rosie the Riveter" a fictitious name based on a real life person, Rose Will Monroe, who helped build B29 and B24 bombers during World War II. Her familiar image on an ad campaign was instrumental in helping the war effort at home.Woman Pilots

Dr. Mary Walker is the only woman who has ever been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for her service during the Civil War. In 1917 her Congressional Medal, along with the medals of 910 others was taken away when Congress revised the Medal of Honor standards to include only "actual combat with an enemy." She refused to give back her Medal of Honor, wearing it every day until her death in 1919. A relative told The New York Times: "Dr. Mary lost the medal simply because she was a hundred years ahead of her time and no one could stomach it." An Army board reinstated Walker's medal posthumously in 1977, citing her "distinguished gallantry, self-sacrifice, patriotism, dedication and unflinching loyalty to her country, despite the apparent discrimination because of her sex."

Women who started their military careers with ROTC have Major General Jeanne M Holm to thank. She started ROTC for women in colleges. Holm was the first woman to rise to the rank of General in the Air Force and the first two star general in any of the services. She vastly expanded the positions that women could fill and constantly fought to end discrimination in the military.

Ann DunwoodyIn 2008 Ann Dunwoody crashed through a barrier never entered by a woman before when she was promoted to four-star general. Dunwoody emphasized when she was promoted that she knows that she won't be the last and that "doors continue to open for men and women in uniform." Dunwoody is Commanding General of the U.S. Army Material Command and has command over 69,000 employees worldwide.

This is just a small sampling of women through time who have had contributed to the service of our country. Visit the National Women's History Museum website at nwhm.org for online exhibits including Partners in Winning the War: American Women in WWII, History.com video Women of War and MilitaryWoman.org.

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