#FemTrending: How To Properly Honor Female WWII Pilots

#FemTrending is a blog series with a feminist kick that wades into the waters of things "trending" in popular culture and politics. Written by GS&NS Digital Content Coordinator, Hailie Johnson-Waskow.

This post isn’t much of an argument. It’s just some good news.

As of May 20th, female pilots who served in the Air Force during World War II can be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

During WWII, Congress rejected a bill that would have granted female pilots military status. Before this ruling, Women Air Force Service Pilots could only be buried at the military cemetery. The consequences of this ruling were vast; for example, the Army once would not send the bodies of 38 women who died in combat home for burial.

Women in the Air Force were initially recognized as veterans in 1977 but were still denied access to Arlington. However, the family of 2nd Lt. Elaine Danforth Harmon has been fighting to change the policy for the last year and was finally successful. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski introduced the bill to Congress earlier in the year where Representative Martha McSally pushed it forward. It was eventually passed and signed by President Obama. Mikulski said when the bill passed, “Today we have righted a terrible wrong… If they were good enough to fly for our country, risk their lives and earn the Congressional Gold Medal, they should be good enough for Arlington.”

It is important to reflect on the things that we can change but it is also important to celebrate victories; this is the latter.


Hailie Johnson-Waskow