When outgoing defense secretary Leon Panetta lifted the military ban against women serving in combat, a common phrase heard in response to his decision was this: women have been serving for decades in combat zones indirectly, and risking their lives. The lifting of the ban was merely a formality that in many ways acknowledged the bravery and sacrifices women in the military have been making for decades.
New York’s Daily News has published an essay with a similar theme in honor of black women to commemorate Black History Month. Much as women in general have been contributing without appreciation for their level of service, the significant participation of African-American women in the military has been largely overlooked — perhaps to an even greater extent.
“According to the Indiana-based Buffalo Soldiers Research Museum, African-American women have played a role in every war effort in United States history,” writes Jay Mwamba of the Daily News. “And black women participated in spite of the twin evils of racial and gender discrimination.”
Nwamba goes on to recount the heroic feats of black women who fought for the American way in creative, mind-blowing ways, pushing themselves to the limit to enhance various military efforts. Harriet Tubman, who acted as a spy, nurse and scout during the Civil War. Cathay Williams, who, after being freed from a plantation by a Union contingent, pretended to be a man so that she could enlist in a peacetime army.
“For two years — until she fell ill and her ruse was discovered — Williams served as a Buffalo Soldier with the 38th U.S. Infantry Regiment,” Mwamba relates.
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article courtesy of TheGrio.com