Proud to serve with brave U.S. women

It's impossible to say how many women were and are involved with the defense of our wonderful country. I can't tell you what a flood of patriotism I felt at our Memorial Day tribute held at the Dayton Cemetery on May 29.

It was an honor to be there, an honor to be a veteran and still able to salute those brave veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Joining the service was one of the best things I did for myself and my country. There have been millions of American women throughout history who stood up to be counted.

When I was in grammar school, one of the poems I memorized was about a woman named Barbara Fritchie. As the story goes, Barbara was an old woman who stood on the side of freedom for America in 1775.

She taunted the British soldiers who marched past her house by waving the American flag, Old Glory, from her balcony. The soldiers were going to shoot her.

"Shoot if you must this old gray head, but spare our country's flag," she said.

Gen. Cornwallis responded: "Who touches a hair on your gray head dies like a dog - march on," he commanded his soldiers.

When I was a child, I was taken by that poem.

When we studied the Civil War in my day, a couple of women surfaced who were interesting. Sarah Edmonds disguised herself as a man and served two years in the Second Michigan Infantry Regiment. She posed as Franklin Thompson during her Army career. She later married and wrote a book about her life of being a nurse and spy in the Union Army.

During World War I, women played a great part as nurses and doctors. Many lost their lives on the front lines. As time passed, women played more active roles in the armed services.

Although we were never expected to fight on the front lines when I was serving, we were taught how to clean, break down, and fire our M-1 rifles.

The women who serve now are expected to know and carry out all of the orders given to men. Many young women have given their lives for their country.

Many have families who miss them sorely. I'm proud to have served with the women who came before and after me.

The Dayton Museum is on Shady Lane and Logan Street in Old Town Dayton. It's also the location of the Dayton Chamber office. It is open during the week at random hours and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Check out Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441.

The Historical Society of Dayton Valley meets at noon on the third Wednesday of the month at the Dayton Valley Community Center. Visitors are welcome.

• Ruby McFarland is a 17-year resident of Dayton, a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the museum.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment