Women's History Month: The Fly Girls are Finally Golden!

Today's Women's History Tidbit:
1989: Japan's Midori Ito captures the Ladies World Figure Skating Championship in Paris. She is the first woman to land a triple axel in international competition.*

This originally was posted at the AWEARNESS blog.

My third, last and happiest update on the women of the WASPs...They finally got their gold:


Can you pass a tissue? Look at that photo...those hands. Delicate as my late grandmother's, yet you know the history behind them. Those hands are representative of "1,100 young women, all civilian volunteers, [who] flew almost every type of military aircraft -- including the B-26 and B-29 bombers -- as part of the WASP program." Some women were too short for the program but somehow slipped through by standing tip-toe.

Yet because the women were civilian volunteers working to support the government, the government did little to support the 38 who died in the line of duty:
[26-year-old Mabel Rawlinson from Kalamazoo, Mich. ] was coming back from a night training exercise with her male instructor when the plane crashed...the military was not required to pay for her funeral or pay for her remains to be sent home. So -- and this is a common story -- her fellow pilots pitched in.
"They collected enough money to ship her remains home by train," says Pohly. "And a couple of her fellow WASPs accompanied her casket."

And, because Rawlinson wasn't considered military, the American flag could not be draped over her coffin. Her family did it anyway.

Now we know where the women got all their moxie from, eh?

But whether or not they lived to receive their Congressional Gold Medals, scores of us who learned all about how the Greatest Generation was composed of sacrificing baseball players and Rosie the Riveters, now know that there were also a group of Fly Girls who did things like tow "targets to give ground and air gunners training shooting -- with live ammunition."

And to have the awarding of their medals happen in March, Women's History Month, whose theme this year is "Writing Women Back into History," well, it's a little too much for this writer to comprehend without another box of tissues.

[Image: Columbia Missourian]

* Source: 2010 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar from the Library of Congress