“A Circle of Sisters...A Circle of Friends”, a coalition of the civilian women who served their country and supported our Armed Forces in Vietnam.
In 1992, as many Vietnam veterans’ organizations were preparing for the dedication of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project, a small but significant group of women were being overlooked in this national celebration of patriotism and courage. A minimum of 56 American civilian women died in the line of duty in Vietnam during the war, and that no one seemed to know about them or their sacrifices.
These women worked with various organizations such as the American Red Cross, Army Special Services, the USO, CIA, USMD, the State Dept., etc., in direct support of our soldiers and allies in Vietnam. These women (like the 8 military nurses whose names appear on The Wall) gave their lives in service to our country, and they too deserved recognition and honor.
It is important that the families of these 56 civilian casualties be given the opportunity to heal from their loss and grief by meeting those who had worked with their loved ones prior to their deaths. Many of these families have never been told how their loved ones died! Our nation should; and must, to do something special for these women and their families, to honor them, and acknowledge their contributions.
Jolynne Strang and Cathleen Cordova, started an organization for civilian veterans of the Vietnam war (A Circle of Sisters...A Circle of Friends), and they implemented a special memorial service for the civilian casualties, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall) in Washington, DC, to coincide with the 1993 dedication of the Women’s Memorial.
Their objectives were simple:
1) Unite and bring recognition to the civilian women veterans of Vietnam for their contributions to the war effort and
2) Publicly honor the American civilian women who lost their lives in Vietnam in service to their country with a public ceremony at The Wall.
Through their determination and powers of persuasion, Jolynne and Cathleen were able to convince the powers that be in DC that they weren’t two “crazies” from the West; that they really had served in Vietnam; and that 56 additional American civilian women had died there during the war, and that they too deserved to be remembered.
Finally, after much work, frustration, expense, and red tape, they prevailed and were granted permission by the National Park Service to hold a special memorial ceremony at The Wall! Mission Impossible was accomplished due in great part to the original vision and dedication of Jolynne Strang and the combined gallant efforts of these two women.
But this ceremony is not enough, this nation can do better, and certainly can do no less; I, as a single voice, think this story needs to be told far and wide; these women’s lives were given in service in Vietnam under the colors of our country, a country which now owes them an eternal debt of gratitude. I ask each and ever one of my readers to contact your congressmen, all of the various service organizations and the National Park Service to request these 56 names be added in honor to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.