It is most appropriate that we observed the 70th anniversary of the D-day (June 6, 1944) invasion of Europe and respectfully remembered the men who made possible that successful venture that eventually led to victory in Europe. However, we should nonetheless remember the women who participated in the campaign and did much to contribute to its overall success.
The first American military nurses landed on Omaha and Utah beaches on June 7 and 8, 1944. One woman recounted her experience: "We landed on the beaches just as everybody else had done." She later added: "When we first arrived and spent our first night in the field, we wondered if we would ever come through alive."
Later in the Normandy campaign, another Army nurse (a captain) described a ward full of patients deemed too sick to be moved. She first thought that most of them would never leave France, "but my nurses got busy and what a change. These men really took a new lease on life. In three days all but one were ready to be evacuated." Although she credited the doctors and aid men for saving the men, she credited the nurses with much of the post- operative recovery: "The presence of nurses seems to lend an atmosphere of comfort and a feeling of safety and refuge -- a touch of home. There is no limit to the amount of time and energy that both nurses and men are willing to give to the patients."
Women stepped forward to serve and placed themselves in harm's way to do what their talents enabled them to do. They deserve to be proudly and respectfully remembered. Lest we forget.
Frank B. Austin