Earth Day 2017
Remember…you came from the dust and to the dust you shall return.
In the gap between those two is my life, on this planet. The earth is my body, Her water is my blood. The air is my breath, and Fire is my Spirit.
Today in the Arizona Daily Star there was an article about how the WASPs have been barred from burial in the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Active duty status for military service was granted to these women retroactively in 1977. Yet in 2014/15 the Secretary of the Army barred these women’s burial in the National Cemetery supposedly because there isn’t enough space.
Southern Arizona Congresswoman Martha McSally, a retired Air Force colonel who was the first American woman to fly in combat, has introduced legislation to Congress to reverse the Secretary’s decision, and grant interment rights in Arlington National Cemetery to these women.
Co-sponsor of the bill is U. S. Rep. Susan Davis of California, who is a ranking member of the the Military Personnel subcommittee. She is quoted as saying, “They have interment rights in other national cemeteries throughout the country. That right should include Arlington National Cemetery, which has always been considered a special place of honor…These women fought, and died, in service to their country. They trained in the military style; sleeping on metal cots, marching and living under military discipline. They deserve the full honors we give our war heroes…”
According to the Arizona Daily Star article a blog post by Arlington National Cemetery officials offered, “The service of Women Air Force Service Pilots during World War II is highly commendable and, while certainly worth of recognition, it does not, in itself, reach the level of Active Duty service required for interment at Arlington National Cemetery.”
Apparently the cemetery is concerned that there will not be enough space for the currently serving active duty service members and veterans. The National Cemetery has guidelines of who can be buried there, including spouses and children of service members. There are eligibility requirements. You can read these here. Being a member of an older generation, a female child of the World War II era, I find the cemetery’s motives suspicious.
There are about 100 women still living who served as WASPs. It seems they should be allowed the same honors as “veterans” who’ve served active duty, especially during a war. Those members of the military who are currently serving will have their turn at being national heroes.
I applaud Rep. McSally for her endeavor to honor these women heroes.
In her blog on the Huffington Post for March 7, 2013, Maria Shriver writes that women must lean in harder to accomplish their goals; yet they also need to push back ‘from the brink’ the possibilities of their defeat. She states that “…working women, who are the core of the American economy, the core of the American family, are more economically vulnerable than ever before…”
She argues that “the time has also come for all of us, collectively, to Push Back — to push back from the brink that threatens to envelop our sisters in hardship, stress, debt, foreclosure and, for too many, poverty…Women can’t push back from the brink without external, structural change, and this is where we have to recognize that all of us, women and men, have a role to play to push for meaningful change. We need to ask more from the institutions that set the rules and define our lives — and we need to ask more from each other. Women need to leverage the power of unity, community and shared vision.”
She asks, “How can we sustain healthy families and achieve a vibrant, fully employed economy if government, corporate, educational and faith-based organizations cling to outdated policies and principles that actually impede women’s ability to fulfill both their professional aspirations and family needs?
“How can we achieve this kind of consensus in such polarized times as these, when pointing fingers and assessing blame passes for political debate? It all starts with acknowledging that the economic health of the country and modern American families is better served with smart, pro-family policies that enable women to maximize all of their professional skills and family responsibilities, while also enabling men to share in the caregiving far more than they already do.”
It seems to me that those who are at the brink have little energy to do that pushing back – they are already doing all they know to do. It is those who have achieved their success, fought their battles and won, those who have the energy to give as mentors and supporters who should be helping the others who are at the brink. The women who have succeeded are role models – they have the wisdom and the expertise to provide ways for those who need help.
Yet it is the larger institutions, employers, and organizations that can help even more in their hiring practices and policy-making. Those within these structures may find it difficult to push back on issues that create barriers to women’s success; however, that is what I feel it is going to take. It can’t be an outside job. Yes, there is risk, and possible loss to push back from within. It takes only one, but others can join, and thereby create pressure for change. It takes only one voice to speak what others want to say. And when that voice speaks others will join in the cry.
Tomorrow is International Women’s Day – a day of celebration of women’s accomplishments. There is more work that needs doing…