Beaufort is a filled with monuments and markers denoting various points in history, but there’s one memorial in Washington, D.C., that could definitely use some of Beaufort’s help. The Women in Service for America Memorial, commonly called the Women’s Memorial, lies near the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery, but it lacks a full record of service.
That’s where we come in.
Currently, there are roughly 300,000 names, photos and recorded experiences of women who have served in the American armed forces. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to a number estimated to be over 2 million. South Carolina alone has over 47,000 female veterans, but only a small percentage of them have registered.
Thoughts turn almost immediately to Clara Barton, the Civil War battlefield nurse who helped start the American Red Cross, or to Kay Summersby, the Jeep driver who took Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower all over European battlefields in World War II. While she was doing that, chef Julia Child was serving as a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence Division of the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner to the CIA.
Closer to home, in 2011, Brig. Gen. L.E. “Lori” Reynolds served as the first female commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
Their stories have already been told and recorded.
But you don’t have to be a brigadier general to have your name marked for posterity as having served your country. Eligible registrations for the memorial include those who are active-duty, reserve, National Guard and U.S. Public Health Service uniformed women, as well as women in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Civil Air Patrol. The memorial also honors women who served overseas during conflicts in direct support of the armed forces in organizations such as the Red Cross, USO and Special Services and members of the U.S. Public Health Service Cadet Nurse Corps.
If that’s not enough of a laundry list, dust off your photo albums and genealogical records, because the registration list includes deceased veterans of American conflicts beginning with the American Revolution.
Heading up the effort as South Carolina’s foundation ambassador for the memorial is Hilton Head resident Col. Ann Shippy, USAF, retired. The memorial opened in 1997. Part of its 20th anniversary celebration is a drive to get not only more registrations by state, but to get more “likes” on the memorial’s Facebook page. Perhaps because of her own residential proximity, Shippy knows the importance of Beaufort in making the South Carolina drive for registrations a success.
“I am committed to the cause but need to reach the Beaufort market because of the large military and retired population,” said Shippy.
“When people think of veterans, they may not think of women. But women have served throughout our great state, sacrificing and sometimes leaving family behind while they deploy worldwide for long periods of time,” said Shippy. “My goal is to make every veteran in the state of South Carolina aware that they can tell their story at the memorial by simply registering their service.”
That can be done quickly and easily online at womensmemorialstore.wufoo.com/forms/online-registration-and-donation-form.
Legislators have done right by creating the Women in Service for America Memorial, and retired veterans like Shippy have done their part by keeping the memorial alive.
Now it’s time for us to do our part by spreading the word to those who deserve to have their service honored and remembered.
Ryan Copeland is a Beaufort native. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.