Memorial Day 2015 is over, but before the holiday is too far in the past, we should also honor the women who served and died. Women entered the military in large numbers in World War II. Certainly, women — including Jewish women — served in combat zones prior to WWII.
Ethel Gladstone, for example, was a nurse in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in World War I. But, with the huge scale of the global conflict known as the Second World War, there was a sudden and urgent need for American women to fill numerous critical military positions. In response, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (the WACs) was created in 1942; the Navy’s service unit for Women was known as WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service). Although the word “Auxiliary” was removed in 1943, this change was largely symbolic.
Women often did not receive equal pay (in some cases, any pay at all!) or other military entitlements. Detroit’s Annetta Miller, for example, served in the Army Nurse Corps in England as a second lieutenant from 1944 to 1945.
Thanks to all of the Jewish women who have served our country.
By Meghan McGowen, Jacobs & Sons Fellow
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.