The American Series explores the individuals who make up our society through watercolor. This painting is particularly important in that the individual persons were among the first through a ceiling. Since America’s founding days, women have been stepping forward to serve this country. From uncommon soldiers who disguised themselves to fight and nurses that faced horrific wounds and to those who proudly wear the uniform today, women have always contributed to our military might. This painting is part of their story.
The time is the mid-1970s. The military environment is filled with rancor and uncertainty. The Vietnam War is chaotic as it begins its final days, the Cold War is raging, the political environment is filled with upheaval and nastiness, and women are entering the military at different level. Before the mid-1970’s, pregnant women were drop-kicked whether they wanted to be or not. Women’s roles were changing from taking notes to the front line. Debates raged over women’s roles. Women in the military breaking through the barriers faced rampant and unabashed discrimination from the line to the flag officers. In fact, one poor soul in Boeing just resigned over an impassioned op-ed he wrote on the subject in the mid-1980s. He’s changed. The environment has changed. The world has changed. And the only reason it all changed were the women who persevered and demonstrated their courage and worth during that phase. Women flew again, they fixed stuff, they were load masters, they contributed on all fronts.
They were women, too. They lived, laughed, fell in love, got married, bore children, and served to keep men free. We owe these women soldiers from the 1970s a huge debt. They were incredibly strong, bloody minded and tender enough to cradle a child while it slept.
They are tough and loving. I wouldn’t have wanted to mess with them then and I certainly wouldn’t want to today.
Thank you to all the women soldiers who have served, fought on battlefields of many kinds, and died to keep us free!