by Lieutenant Colonel Tammy Duckworth
On Memorial Day, we honor our heroic dead – men and women – who have lived up to this standard and paid the price for our freedoms. Thank you for acknowledging their sacrifices.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught our country many lessons. One lesson is that there are no longer any traditional front lines. Our female warriors have risen to this challenge and shown that we are equal to the task. Indeed, whether it was the WACs, WAVEs or SPARs in WWII or our women who served in Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm, women have served honorably whenever they have been given the opportunity. In Iraq and Afghanistan, it is no longer shocking to see female names and faces among our fallen heroes.
It’s time to stop being surprised that American’s daughters are just as fully capable of doing their jobs and fighting for freedom as her sons. Those of us females who have been in the military a few years each have our own stories of firsts. In some way, we each had to break through one at a time, proving we were just as good as the men.
But I also realized early in my career that you must stand up for what you believe in and be true to who you are. When I was a young officer, I spent too much time trying to be “one of the guys.” I became a better officer when I stepped away from my personal hang-ups about proving myself and just focused on the mission. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter who you are in the cockpit or in the convoy. All that matters is that you never quit, that you always work hard and that you never leave a fallen comrade behind. So this Memorial Day, let’s not forget our heroes. Say a word of thanks for our freedoms and know that this truly is the home of the free thanks to the brave.
Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. She is currently running for Congress in Illinois. In May, 2012, the YWCA USA honored Tammy Duckworth as a Women of Distinction for excellence in military/veterans affairs.