We value our family time, backyard barbeques and parties, and cherish those childhood memories of watching 4th of July parades and festivals in our hometowns. While these things are all important and are often considered part of our summer traditions, this 4th of July, let us pause to remember those brave men and women who have gone on before us, in defense of our freedom, and those currently serving our great country both at home and abroad.
The men and women of our armed forces, along with their families, sacrifice so much to protect us, our families, homes and country. Giving freely of themselves, and often making the ultimate sacrifice, these true American heroes have given us an opportunity to live and prosper in the greatest country on Earth.
Often gone untold are the stories of our female military personnel, who face hardships not felt by their male colleagues. Women have played a key role in our military from the early years up to today. Many people do not realize that, in fact, women served in the Revolutionary War. A female first, Ensign Jane Kendeigh, made history as the first flight nurse in history to set foot upon a battlefield on Iwo Jima, and later was the first flight nurse to land on Okinawa.
Contributions by women to the military date back much earlier as evidenced by the names of several ships. In 1776, the very first American armed ship named for a woman was a small wooden river gunboat named Lady Washington. Named in honor of Martha Washington, this vessel was constructed by the patriots of the state of New York to defend the Hudson River. In 1942, two U.S. Navy transport ships were named after local Finger Lakes women: the U.S.S. Elizabeth C. Stanton, and the U.S.S. Susan B. Anthony.
June 12 was Women Veterans Recognition Day in New York, when we were asked to pay tribute to the bravery, patriotism and sacrifices made by women in the military, both living and dead. It was also the anniversary of the signing of the Women’s Armed Forces Service Act of 1948, which gave women a permanent place in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
As we celebrate this great country’s birthday on July 4 and we think about all our soldiers overseas, be sure to remember our female soldiers and veterans. Today and every day, I salute those women and offer my most sincere gratitude for standing up for freedom, liberty and justice.