This week I was invited to the French Foreign Legion Medal Ceremony for six US Veterans in Windsor, Colorado.
Let me tell you, it was one of the most profoundly moving moments I have ever been a part of.
LT Leila Morrison, LT Armand Sedgeley, 2LT William (Bill) Powell, SSG Philip Daily, SSG Harry Moroncelli and (posthumously) CPT Joseph Grahm were awarded the Knight -or Chevalier- medal for their outstanding service and dedication during WW2.
After the bagpipes and the colors were presented, both National Anthems were played. No words to the music, but it was quickly apparent which veterans in the audience had served in France as they all saluted the flag and sung the anthem in French. When the Star Spangled Banner began playing, it started as a few bars hummed and them everyone sang with passion. There were tears rolling down cheeks- it was that emotional.
While I was observing the people around me, the line from that Abba song flashed through my head “I can see it in your eyes- how proud you were to fight for freedom in this land”.
Each and everyone of the medal recipients was extremely humble and truly don’t think they did anything that anyone else wouldn’t have done.
Solely by chance I had met Leila a few weeks prior to this. What a story! Leila graduated nursing school at 22 and immediately joined the Army as a nurse and was sent to field hospitals on the front lines. She was at both Normandy and Battle of the Bulge caring for our wounded warriors. After that she was on hand at the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp. After that she was returned stateside and married her sweetheart when the war was over.
OH! The questions I wanted to ask! Don’t get me wrong, I loved that she shared parts of her story with me, but there was so much more I wanted to know! It simply wasn’t the place to go asking a zillion questions.
The room was packed with friends and family and many, many local servicemen from all branches. LTC Huffman gave background on the recipients and really brought the stories to life with photos and antidotes. The Hon Christophe Lemoine from the French Consulate gave a very moving speech that also had people wiping tears away.
God bless these men and women who have given us so much.
There. I said it. A great big resounding N-O!
I believe that women have no business in Infantry. Not in any branch. Not at this time. ~ I have debated this many times with my sons (Marine and Army) as well as with other current and former military from all branches. I was married into the Army and have the deepest respect for all branches. (I have won no popularity contests with my views among other women)
That being said, it’s not that I do not think that there are women capable of what it takes to be an Infantryman. Quite the contrary.
It’s been a fact that since the beginning of time, women have played pivotal roles in warfare. From espionage to logistics and everything in between.
** My son, the Marine, actually just sent me this link from Capt Lauren Sorrano USMC on this very subject. Luckily she is far more eloquent than I. Why Women do Not belong in the US Infantry **
My general thoughts are this:
A woman on the front lines is just trouble waiting to happen. An “International Incident” at worst, an inconvenience at best. It’s no secret, that with the exception of the European countries (Britain, France…) the other countries will do Whatever it Takes. Period. I can only imagine the difference between men and women being captured during wartime in this day and age. A man would expect to be tortured or worse. And we accept that. We do not want any of “Ours” to be captured by the enemy, but we understand that it happens. ~A Woman could be captured and have unspeakable things done to her. I believe this would cause much dissent and division among Americans. In general ‘we’ believe that women shouldn’t be treated that way. period. There would be outrage at her fate. I can imagine the good people would blame the Gov’t ‘How could you LET something like that happen to my daughter/wife/sister? WHY didn’t you TELL us??? Never mind that her Male counterpart was maimed beyond repair.
( Man or woman, when you sign up with any branch of the United States Military it is with full knowledge that things CAN happen)
A woman in Combat also poses all sorts of other issues. Everything from Cramps and menstrual cycles (Really? You need to go find a bush NOW?) to the logistics of having separate showers, lodging and more. Not to mention that SEX happens. And trash talking, foul language, dirty jokes, racy stories and an occasional racist (perceived) remark are rampant. It’s War, It’s not personal. It’s blowing off steam. I would expect a woman to not get all worked up over it. I know how ‘ladies’ talk… and let me tell you, many can out do a man any day of the week.
Women are not capable of sustaining the strength for long periods of time.
That women have fortitude, survival instincts, the ability to adapt is not a debate. It’s no secret that women ENDURE.
Raw strength is what I am talking about. I would expect that any woman who thinks she is capable of being Infantry – and we’re talking during an actual WAR, not just training exercises to able to do EVERYTHING a man can. WITHOUT EXCEPTION. She should not get to do less or an ‘easier’ version of training just because she is a woman. I would expect her to be able to hump her own packs (and they’re not light!) for miles in all sorts of terrain and weather. I would also expect her to be able to, at the drop of a pin, be able to haul my soaking wet 200 lb son to safety. The same as I expect it from him.
Mentally, I am on the fence. I believe that women, by nature, to be far more ruthless than men. Women have an innate ability to tune of the static and just get on with the task at hand. It’s the aftermath that may prove trickier for women. Women may hesitate to kill. A hesitation, no matter if it’s just a millisecond, could get an entire platoon killed.
Let me say here- that while I do not agree with women on the front lines, if at all possible, I would expect that every single woman who joins any branch of the service, to be ready and willing to do whatever is necessary to protect her country if push comes to shove. In the event a MASH or a camp was attacked ( or something like that) I would fully expect every woman to pick up arms and defend to the end. To never give up. Period. I expect every single woman in the Military to be able to do damn everything a man can. From being a mechanic to a leader and in between.
As women we should consider ourselves lucky that we are not conscripted into service like some other countries. (Greece, Pakistan to name a couple).
I don’t know what me think of it today…
A few years ago, I had run down to Colorado to see my son, The Marine, who was on leave visiting his grandma. He said “I’ll meet you at the airport, Mom before we each fly out.
He is NOT a morning person. At all.
I was already through security and on the other side waiting….and waiting…and waiting some more.
I finally just got on the train went to my gate. ..He had told me he was on the same airline. Turns out NOT! But I didn’t know that yet. He calls me from the other side of security…
He had JUST arrived!… (kids… sigh)
Holy S*** MOM!!! What do I doooooooo?? I HAVE to get on that plane!
Good Mama that I am, I immediately find the nearest gate girl, explain that the kidd-o is still in security and his flight is going to leave. SOON. Gate girl is awesome. She calls downstairs, get him a cart to grab him and his gear and bring him directly to the terminal… So I call him back and ask Where is he so they can fetch… Hahahahaha… He’s on another carrier!!!
The fabulous gate girl, still made a few calls and got him through security lickity quick. After that he was on his own.
Me??? I was sulking because I knew I would not be seeing The Marine before I left. The two areas of DIA are literally a mile apart.
My plane is starting to board. And suddenly you hear “Hey Damnit” and then “Look out!!!”
and…… Mooooooooommmmmmmmmm!!!! I’m coming!!!!!! WAAIIITTTTTTT!!!!
And lo and behold, here comes my son, in full gear… Duffle on back, bags in hand… doing THE OJ …. leaping over chairs and small kids in a single bound. ( he may have elbowed one two people out of the way too)
My son, The Marine, had RUN the entire length of DIA just to see his Mama off and take a quick picture before SPRINTING all the way back to grab his plane.
I love that kid!