A day in history…

In May 1941, Representative Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts, the first congresswoman ever from New England, introduced legislation that would enable women to serve in the Army in noncombat positions. Rogers was well suited for such a task; during her husband John J. Rogers’ term as congressman, Rogers was active as a volunteer for the Red Cross, the Women’s Overseas League, and military hospitals. She was eventually appointed to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, as chairwoman in the 80th and 83rd Congresses.

The bill to create a Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps would not be passed into law for a year after it was introduced (the bombing of Pearl Harbor was a great incentive). But finally, the WAACs gained official status and salary—but still not all the benefits accorded to men. Thousands of women enlisted in light of this new legislation, and in July 1942, the “auxiliary” was dropped from the name, and the Women’s Army Corps, or WACs, received full Army benefits in keeping with their male counterparts.

On this day, May 15, 1942, a bill establishing a women’s corps in the U.S. Army became law, creating the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACs) and granting women official military status.

The WACs performed a wide variety of jobs, “releasing a man for combat,” as the Army, sensitive to public misgivings about women in the military, touted. But those jobs ranged from clerk to radio operator, electrician to air-traffic controller. Women served in virtually every theater of engagement, from North Africa to Asia.

Sadly, it would not be until 1980 that 16,000 women who had joined the earlier WAACs would receive veterans’ benefits, and there was the whole issue of allowing them to be buried in Arlington that wasn’t finally resolved until last year.

Not only were the men of the greatest generation, but so were the women. They stepped up in many fields, not just the military, but the factories, the plants, the assembly lines that allowed America to go to war and win!

Your mother wore combats boots wasn’t an insult, but a matter of pride in those days…

I can only wonder what those women would think of the women of today…


A day in history… — 12 Comments

  1. I can only wonder what those women would think of the women of today…

    I had a patient about 6-8 weeks ago who was 100, and had been a WAC. She showed me her pictures in her uniform. She was sharp as a tack, just not quite so steady on her feet. The news was on the TV when I arrived to do the admission for home care services. The talking heads were talking about the demonstrators who were wandering around with those pink hats on…she expressed that it made no sense to her to 1. make a hat that looked that ugly, or 2. why anyone would wear it, especially out in public, especially something that symbolized “woman parts”. Those should be kept covered!! Than, she apologized to me for being opinionated. I laughed, told her being opinionated, and stubborn, was what had kept her going for the past hundred years, and she wasn’t saying anything lots of others hadn’t thought.

    She has great-grands who are serving in the military (Navy and Air Force) and another one who is headed to the Marines right after graduation in May. She had married her husband (high school sweetheart)after the war was over, he had been in the Pacific theater. He died about 10 years ago, and she still misses him “every day”.

    Tough doesn’t begin to describe her. Has buried not only her husband but 2 of her kids. Told me she wasn’t ready to go yet.

    She was a sketch! Those of us in these following generations have a lot of ground to make up to come close to some of these old timers. That’s what I think…

    • Suz, the next time you see this woman/veteran thank her for her service for me.


  2. Amen.
    And in the “next one”, everyone is likely to be a minute-person. (Sarc).
    Raise your hand. Swear the oath. You are at risk regardless of race, creed, sex, etc..
    But, do your job. Don’t drag the team down.

  3. I don’t believe anyone of the Greatest Generation would be pleased with the kids today. I know I’m not, though there are some fine exceptions.

  4. Hey Suz, Loved the comment about her being a ‘sketch’! Hadn’t heard that in ages, but was in common usage around here all the time I was growing up. Nowadays, you’re not a “hot sketch” but have become a ‘Hot S***”! So much for the current generation!

    • Showing my New England/Yankee roots. I spent most of my youth in the summertime around a multitude of Great-Aunts and Uncles, in addition to grandparents and great-grand parents, and then went to work in nursing homes while working my way through nursing school. So I hung out with my elders much more than with kids my own age. Explains lots…lol.

  5. Hey Old NFO;

    I am pretty sure that they would be appalled by the antics and behavior of the “snowflakes” that represent women today. Back then those that were in the WACS had survived the great depression and then the shock of getting attacked on Pearl Harbor. Those women were made of steel, not plaster and yard like the new generation.

  6. What would those women think of many of the men of today?

  7. Suz, what a great tale. She is indeed a “Sketch”. Haven’t heard that one in a while.
    Yes, there are snowflakes among the young, and some old ones too. But, there are many young people today with the grounding, backbone, and work ethic to get things done. They just don’t get any press. Just like the WACC’s in the beginning. I’m proud of the kids we have raised, and the kids they are raising, especially with all the challenges in today’s world.
    I wonder what will be said of our generation…

  8. I think they would find their counterparts and admit it that their counterparts were few and far between, like now. Traditional Vibe had some photos up tonight of the women who put on uniforms and flew or worked for the armed forces in the war. They were the ones that I admire. They are still out there every single day doing what calls them and if it looks like their numbers have been diminished that’s mostly a media fail thing. They don’t celebrate patriots anymore. It’s like they never did.