On January 24, 2013, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed a memo eliminating the ban on women serving in ground combat units, and bringing an official end to the 1994 Combat Exclusion Policy. In May of 2013, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines were to submit their plans for ending the policy that had prevented women from serving in ground combat positions. All of the forces then have until 2016 to fully open more than 200,000 positions in the military to women. Read more about Women in Field Combat in my latest article , and leave a comment as to your thoughts on women fighting in the field.
We at About.com and particularly at US Military recognize and appreciate the sacrifice that fathers serving in the military make each day. Sunday, June 16th is Father's Day and we salute each of you! Thank you for your service and sacrifice as you make this world a safer place for your child and the future of each child in this country as you faithfully serve. Happy Father's Day!
For the female considering enlistment in the military, sexual assault has become a very valid concern. Recently at a meeting with leaders of every military branch, Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam veteran and ex-prisoner of war, remarked that he could not unconditionally advise women to join the service as the military struggles to contain and curb its sexual assault epidemic.
Read more about how the military is trying to bring this under control and how it applied to the female recruit in the article, Is the Military Safe for Women?
Monday, May 27, is Memorial Day. I've been having a few physical issues lately, so I know that I won't be joining the masses that will be celebrating the "unofficial beginning of summer" by having a picnic at the beach, or taking out the boat for a day on the river. I won't be joining those that are hitting the malls for Memorial Day sales. I'm not sure yet, just what I'll be doing, but I do remember what I did in 1997 on Memorial Day....
It was a beautiful summer day. I was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. I was soon to be discharged after 22 years of military service, and it was unsettling to think about the future as a civilian. I was ready. There was no doubt in my mind about that, but the fact remains that I had given half of my life to the service of my country and I was going to be entering uncharted territory.
I usually try to avoid a cemetery, but there was to be a Memorial Day ceremony at the Williams Cemetery at 11 and I thought it would be a good distraction for me, so I headed over to it. As I expected, there were American flags on the graves. I didn't try to understand why at the time, but those flags nearly brought tears to this soldier's eyes. The service was at the Unknown Soldier's white cross, but I stayed to the outside of the festivities and looked on.
Most of those attending were soldiers and their families, but my attention was taken by an elderly woman that was holding a folded flag. She refused the seat offered to her and stood throughout the entire service, even though you could tell it took great effort on her part. At the end of the service, I went to her and offered her my arm to take her to her car, which she gratefully accepted.
I had just attended a Memorial Day service. I had spent 22 years in the military. You would think that I, of all people, would know what Memorial Day was all about- but it was on the walk to her car that I came to the full realization of the meaning of Memorial Day.
When she was 24, she had married the love of her life. She had been taking care of her ailing mother and 4 younger siblings when she met John. It was love at first sight and they were planning a small wedding when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. John enlisted and they were married the next day. The following week John left for training and to enter the battlefield. He was killed 6 months later, and all she physically had of him was this flag. She told me that he gave up a future as her husband, father of her children, and a life by her side to fight for a country he loved and people that he didn't know. As she was getting into her car, she remarked that his sacrifice would be meaningless without this remembrance of him.
She didn't need to be reminded of the reason for Memorial Day. It was sacred to her. As she left I reflected on my service. I had spent 22 years in service to my country out of love of and loyalty, but I wasn't called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. I only gave a portion of my life and time, and was now going to be leaving the service to fulfill my life in the civilian population. John, and numerous others never had that opportunity.
On this Memorial Day and all others, America commemorates those who made the greatest sacrifice possible--giving one's own life on behalf of others. They came from all walks of life and regions of the country. But they all had one thing in common--love of and loyalty to country. By honoring the nation's war dead, we preserve their memory and thus their service and sacrifice in the memories of future generations.
Did this story really happen? Maybe or maybe not. That's really not important. What is important is how you spend your Memorial Day. You may choose to go to the beach, or on a picnic. You may choose to go shopping to get some great deals. But whatever you chose, take a moment to reflect upon those that gave up all so that you could make that choice.