Last week this column told the history of WASP and the role one woman played before it was accepted as an important part of the WWII effort performed by women pilots.

This week is the story of another woman’s struggle to honor the women who served in the military during the Vietnam War. Diane Carlson Evans was a registered nurse who served there from 1968-69. She wrote a short essay about that experience which she called Our War.

"I don’t go off to war, so they say, I’m a woman. Who then has worn my boots? And whose memories are these, of youths suffering? Of blood and burns, of their tears and their cries? I’m a woman and I’ve tasted man’s war. Our war. And he knows that I love him in no greater way than to share his life or his death. What are the rules? Man or woman, we are prey to suffer and survive together. Please don’t forget me. I’ve been through war’s hell and if only you will listen, I’ve a story of those chosen to sacrifice for us all."

The rest of this column tells how she accomplished telling the story of those chosen to sacrifice for us all.

Washington, D.C. is filled with our country’s history. Statues seemed to

be the appropriate way to commemorate our past and they are everywhere. I was fortunate to visit the city often because the two press organizations I belong to held their annual meetings there many times. It wasn’t easy to carve out enough free time between meetings to visit some of these interesting memories.

After the black granite Wall was opened in 1984, I always included a visit to that monument. In that quiet spot, the enormity of the cost in lives during the Vietnam War was overwhelming. Names of 58,183 men and eight women are inscribed on that long wall.

My last visit was in the late '90s, and as I walked away from the wall, I passed the "Three Fighting Men" statue which featured three servicemen of different ethnicities and had been there since 1985. Just a short distance beyond I saw a new bronze statue. It was a striking V-shaped sculpture depicting three women in fatigues. One is seated on a pile of sandbags holding a wounded soldier. One is standing, searching the sky for a helicopter and the third is crouched down helping to support the body of the soldier. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial honors the approximately 265,000 military women who served their country during the 12 years of the Vietnam War. Of that number, 10,000 served in Vietnam.

Most of the women in the military were nurses, but the number of civilian women such as the Red Cross and other volunteer capacities is unknown. One of those nurses who served in Vietnam thought there should be a memorial to all those women who served. Diane Carlson Evans presented her idea in 1983 and a year later the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project was organized. Their goal was to place a statue near the Wall to educate the public about the role women played during the war.

For two years, the group lobbied Congress and raised $4 million. In spite of vigorous opposition from many, they held a national competition to find a suitable design. Of the 300 entries, Glenna Goodacre, sculptor from Santa Fe, NM , was commissioned to create the statue. On Veterans Day, November 11,1993, a solemn dedication ceremony was held at the statue’s final resting place.

And now in 2010, women are serving on the front lines in two wars. Because of Evan’s efforts they can visit a memorial honoring the service of women during wars.

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