By Wanda “Sistah Soldier” Petty, President & CEO, SHE VET, iNC.
Most women serve in the armed forces and never become aware of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial (WIMSA) until years after separation. With its semicircular design (referred to as the Hemicycle) the memorial’s original intention when built in 1932 was as a ceremonial entrance for the Arlington National Cemetery.
However, due to the recession, it was unfinished and not utilized. Congress didn’t want taxpayers to be responsible for keeping it active. After two years of fundraising, the ground breaking took place. In 1994 the building was completed. It took years, but a group of women was determined to pursue having it come to life.
Since then, the Hemicycle has become a staple at the Arlington National Cemetery. Thousands of visitors walk through the halls annually, admiring the memorabilia and adorn themselves with the education of women who served our country.
I recently interviewed Army Retired Major General Jan Edmunds, Chairboard of WIMSA, about the evolution of the national museum. According to Edmunds, “Women need to know, the memorial is a ‘living’ memorial and serves as a reminder for all women who served our country. It’s not just for the armed forces, but those who volunteered with the Red Cross and Peace Corps and several other organizations during all eras of war are welcome to register.”
The memorial functions in multiple capacities or occasions (i.e., events such as book signings, retirements, receptions and beyond). Reservations for events and registering your service takes place in person and online. The mission of the museum is so important; there’s currently a campaign, recruiting women from every state to become ambassadors to bring awareness of its purpose.
Why is registration necessary?
It’s the only national archive where women are collectively acknowledged for their service.
Her service and legacy matters. Her lineage will be able to trace her history and dedication of service for generations to come. Otherwise, the commitment and dedicated efforts of every woman who has served will vanish.
What a beautiful message we send to other young girls who aspire to continue carrying the torch and fill the shoes of a legendary woman who served her country. Our story becomes a guideline for everyone to learn.
If you have served, I encourage you to register and stake your claim to history. The next time you are in Washington, D.C., stop by the memorial and see if you recognize any of your peers who stood for their legacy?
To learn more about making donations, to register, or to reserve the museum for an event visit www.womensmemorial.org.
Sistah Soldier is an inspirational activist who helps veterans, women, and minorities step into the call of God for their lives. She’s the CEO, host, and executive producer of the SHE VET™ iNSPIRES.com television show, and the executive recruiter for SHE WORKS Digital™.