Stefanik Authors Bill Designating March 21 as Women's Military History Day, Commemorates Women's History Month

March 16, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC - This week, Congresswoman Stefanik cosponsored a bipartisan Resolution to Mark Women's History Month with Representative Mike Thompson (CA-05), to honor the history of women in the United States.

"As the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the United States Congress, I am especially proud to be an original cosponsor of the Resolution to Mark Women’s History Month and honor the tremendous contributions women have made to advance our politics, economy, and culture. Today, there is a record number of women in Congress, and this achievement would not be possible without the fearless women who led before us," said Congresswoman Stefanik.

Additionally, in honor of the brave women of the United States Armed Forces, Congresswoman Stefanik authored and will introduce a bill calling on President Biden to designate March 21st as Women's Military History Day.

"This year marks the 40th anniversary of Women’s History Month, a time dedicated to recognizing the remarkable achievements women have made since the founding of our country. Currently, tens of millions of women are helping America battle an unprecedented pandemic as essential workers, health-care providers, teachers, small business owners, farmers, mothers, daughters, sisters, and more. In 2021, there were more women sworn into Congress than at any time in our nation’s history.

But amidst all of these challenges and triumphs, we must not forget about the women who bravely serve our country each and every day by serving in the United States military.

The endeavors of bold American military women date back to the Revolutionary War and have spanned every conflict since. During the American Revolution, women voluntarily served in support roles as nurses, seamstresses and cooks. Some hid their identities, dressing as men to serve alongside soldiers in the trenches. They suffered the same hardships as their male counterparts without the benefit of military rank or compensation. They did so out of love of country and a willingness to sacrifice themselves to defend our republic.

America’s first officially enlisted woman joined the military in the month of March — Loretta Perfectus Walsh was sworn in as a chief petty officer in the United States Navy on March 21, 1917. She was the first woman to officially serve in the U.S. armed forces in a capacity other than a civilian nurse, and less than a month after her enlistment, the U.S. declared war on Germany and entered World War I. The following year on Jan. 21, 1918, Myrtle Hazard became the first woman to officially take the oath of enlistment for the U.S. Coast Guard. On Aug. 13, 1918, Opha May Johnson joined the U.S. Marine Corps before she even had the lawful right to vote.

Esther McGowin Blake, having already joined the Army Air Forces in 1944, enlisted in the active duty U.S. Air Force on July 8, 1948, and proudly served beside her two sons. And Deborah Sampson, the first woman to join the U.S. Army, disguised herself as a man to join the Continental Army, where she honorably served until 1783. She was wounded multiple times and received an honorable discharge upon being discovered as a female.

These trailblazing women were selfless and courageous, and serve as an example of what it means to be an American patriot. They continually pushed the boundaries of American society and culture, shattering glass ceilings of their time.

Today, thousands of women serve in direct combat roles and undertake combat arms professions at the Department of Defense. As the representative for New York’s 21st Congressional District, I am continually inspired by our military women serving at Fort Drum and in the 10th Mountain Division, the most deployed unit since 9/11.

Every woman who straps up their boots to serve should be held in our nation’s highest regard for their courage and bravery. In their honor, I call upon President Biden to designate March 21 as Women’s Military History Day. It’s only fitting that we commemorate the women of the United States military for their selflessness, valor, and patriotism on the same day that Chief Petty Officer Walsh made history more than 100 years ago."

This op-ed was featured in the Military Times.

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