“We [women aviators] proved that women are just as capable as men. Airplanes don’t know the difference between a man and a woman, they just know the difference in a good pilot and a bad pilot,” said Deanie Parrish, a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot during WWII.
This is just one of the many powerful lines from Unsung Heroes: Story of America’s Female Patriots shown at the Smith Student Center Theatre Thursday evening. The 2014 TV Documentary, directed by Frank Martin, told the history and roles of women in the United States Military and their untold stories of courage and sacrifice. It featured many female veterans who told their compelling and heartfelt stories of their duty and accomplishments during their time in the service.
Jodi Solito, the Director of the Women Center and Pride Center at SRU, led a discussion after the documentary to talk not only about its importance, but its impact as well.
“The importance that I found in this film was that sometimes people overlook that women are in the military, and have been for a very long time without necessarily getting credit for their service,” Solito said.
A popular discussion topic that came up was breaking gender stereotypes. When people think of soldiers, they usually think of men and not women. But what people don’t often realize is the impact that women have had and currently have on our military.
Women were not legally allowed to serve in Combat until January of 2013 when Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta removed the military’s ban. But according to the movie, what most people don’t realize is that women were fighting in combat long before that.
Francoise Bonnell, the Director of U.S. Army Women’s Museum and retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army, said during her interview in the documentary that women fought in combat during the American Revolution and Civil War by disguising themselves as men. She went on to talk about how Sarah Edmands and Loretta Velazquez both fought in Combat during the Civil War by cutting their hair and wearing fake facial hair. Both survived the Battle of Bull Run and went on to fight in other battles as well.
Especially right before Veteran’s Day, this is a good documentary to view. Women played a much bigger role in the United States Military than most people are aware. Unsung Heroes: Story of America’s Female Patriots brings to light what most people don’t realize is that women are just as brave as men, and can risk their lives just the same.
As Dorothy Dempsey, former Chief Petty Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard, said during her interview in the documentary, “We weren’t always known on the surface for what we did in our work, but we were in fact there alongside the men.”