For many families, Memorial Day means a long weekend and a chance to sleep in, grill out, and get together. However, for others, it is a time to celebrate (and for some, mourn) those who died during active military service. This year, we want to take that celebration of life, death, and selflessness to the next level by sharing some amazing facts about military mavens who have paved the way and set the bar for women in the armed forces. Check out these facts from Maven Fly!
1. Women in disguise served on the front lines as far back as the 1700s. There have been restrictions on female enlistment and service roles since the inception of organized armed forces. However, a woman named Deborah Sampson served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War for over a year under the name Robert Shurtliff before she was wounded and honorably discharged.
2. The first woman to receive a military pension served in the Revolutionary War. When Margaret Corbin’s husband was killed in 1779, she took over his position of manning a solo cannon and was seriously injured herself. She was awarded a disability pension by Congress for wounds incurred during military service. However, it was only one-half of a soldier’s pay. In 1804, Deborah Sampson was awarded this same pension.
3. Only one woman in U.S. history has been awarded the Medal of Honor. The U.S. military’s highest honor has been bestowed on more than 3,000 men and only one woman — Dr. Mary Edwards Walker. Walker worked as a contract surgeon for the Union forces and was a prison of war to the Confederate Army in the 1800s. The award was revoked in 1917 and then restored in 1977.
4. Women were only recently granted permission to fight in ground combat. In 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta withdrew the Direct Combat Exclusion Rule, which restricted women from serving in ground combat units.
Thank you to all the men and woman who sacrifice their comfort and safety to serve our country!