Female Veterans, and a Memorial to Them, Struggle to Honor Women Who Served

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tags: veterans, military history, memorials, womens history

The advancing front of tourists in matching T-shirts, squinting toward the gently rolling hillsides covered with gravestones, made its way into America’s most famous cemetery by walking right past its grand, ceremonial entrance with barely a glance.

Inside those granite walls, with fountains, glass panels and gold relief, is the nation’s only major memorial to female veterans, one that chronicles their contributions since the American Revolution.

Yet, the Women in Military Service for America Memorial is constantly scrambling to stay afloat. Even as the nation seeks to canonize more and more of its war dead, contributions to this memorial are flagging.

Female veterans — historically the memorial’s biggest donor pool — have pulled back over the years, and today they often focus more on their postmilitary life, and civilian identity, after taking off the uniform. And federal money, which has always been limited for memorials, has become increasingly stretched across an ever-expanding landscape of tributes, which are all looking for new donors.

The perpetual move to build large war memorials in a universe of finite space and money raises broader questions about just how many entanglements the nation should commemorate in its most famous public spaces. Nearly a dozen memorials are in the works on or near the National Mall, a reflection of two decades of wars and a surge of civilian support, at least symbolically, to honor veterans, as well as a drive to recognize forgotten soldiers of prior conflicts.

Read entire article at New York Times

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