Vietnam Veterans were not welcomed home as the country desperately tried to put the war behind it. Before founding of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project, little was known of the heroism of American women. Yet over 265,000 military and civilian women served beside their brother soldiers. Approximately 10,000 American military women were stationed in Vietnam during the war. Ninety percent were nurses. Others served as physicians, physical therapists and personnel in the medical field, air traffic control, military intelligence, administration and in many other capacities. Civilian women also served in Vietnam as news correspondents and workers for the Red Cross, the USO, Special Services, the American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Relief Services and other humanitarian organizations.
Many of these women were wounded or killed in the crossfire. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project gave these women veterans a voice by highlighting their stories and educating the public. It has helped to tell their story through the mass print and electronic media as well as in schoolrooms and universities and at conferences, seminars and conventions. As more and more Vietnam women read and heard of their sisters’ service, they came forward with their own experiences. Many of these women had never before shared their personal experiences with others – the pain was too deep.
Now, through their poems, songs and stories, the healing of women veterans has begun. Silent no more, women veterans have a special role in discussions surrounding a call to arms, the role of women in the military, and veterans benefits. Their insights into war make their contributions in peacetime as invaluable as their heroism in Vietnam.
Transforming Vision into Reality: The Vietnam Women’s Memorial
By Diane Carlson EvanS, Founder
The Vietnam Women’s Memorial was dedicated on the National Mall just yards from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Wall, on November 11, 1993, in Washington, D.C. One may think that the approval, placement, and financing of a statue for such a just cause would be a relatively simple process – after all, this was the first memorial on the Mall of our nation’s Capital to honor the military service of women. To the contrary, the process was long and arduous and included two separate pieces of Congressional legislation and approval of three federal commissions. The dedication of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial (VWM) represented the culmination of a 10-year struggle by thousands of volunteers who overcame controversy, rejection, and challenge by those who thought that a women’s memorial was not needed. This case study is about the passion, the process, and the politics of turning a vision into reality and how one former army nurse made a profound difference in women’s history (Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project, 1993).
Mason/Leavitt: Policy and Politics, 4th Edition Copyright 2002, ISBN-0-7216-9534-5
W.B. Saunders an Elsevier Imprint.
A three-day Celebration of Patriotism and Courage, November 10-12, 1993, in Washington, D.C. highlighted the dedication of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial on November 11, 1993 near the Wall of names and the statue of the three serviceman at the site of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Thousands of Vietnam veterans, their families and friends joined the nation in honoring these brave and compassionate women.