Located in the National Mall in Washington, DC is a 2,000 lb. bronze statue that honors women who provided a host of patriotic services during the Vietnam War. The statue, created by artist and sculptor Glenna Goodacre and erected in 1993, depicts three women, two of whom are providing direct care to an ailing soldier while the third woman kneels. The monument is circular and provides a three-dimensional view. Eight tress surround the sculpture and they represent the eight servicewomen who lost the lives in the war. It’s the first time America has honored women for their patriotic services in such a tangible manner.

            If you’ve been to DC, you can find a few other statues of women, such as Crouching Woman, Mary McLeod Bethune, Battlefield Civil War Nurses, Eleanor Roosevelt and the new If/Then STEM statues, to name few. But none of them have brought more emotional outpouring than the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Women served many roles during the Vietnam War era, not just as nurses or servicewoman but also as doctors, air traffic controllers, intelligence officers, journalists, librarians, lawyers, among others. The statue has become a catalyst for discussion. Visitors have embraced the “kneeling woman” as the voice of the everywoman; the one who sat by watching and waiting. Her look of despair haunts viewers. She’s epitomizes the helplessness everyone felt about the war. Many visitors say they feel gratitude when they see the statue.  “I didn’t know I needed this” is a frequent utterance.

            If you want to learn more about the role of women nurses, read, “Home Before Morning; The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam” by Lynda Van Devanter. There are a few informative videos on YouTube (Why the Vietnam Women’s Memorial is Meaningful”; Vietnam Women’s Memorial  Lest We Forget”).

            This beautiful memorial comforts many people.  But folks, its 22 years old. Surely women have done magnificent things since then. Where is their statue? I don’t know how many times I can say this, we need to dot the landscape with monuments of the matriarchy. Women are the backbone of humanity; the cornerstone of democracy; the motherload of society. Make a place for us among all the marbleized men.

            On one of the videos a nurse is quoted as saying, “I felt like I was the only woman in a sea of men.” If our statues could talk they’d say the same thing. Women statues are still few between the many. Centuries from now, what will they think of us? I don’t want future women to think that females left a limited mark on the world. We know that’s not true. It can’t be our legacy. It just can’t.