Friday, August 21, 2015

Machete v. Mascara

On August 20, two women graduated from the US Army Ranger School. They leave their mark as a new generation of women in combat roles. They are the first to complete in their combat leadership course, one of the hardest challenges, both mentally and physically for anyone.
They have trained in combat situations, been deprived of food and sleep, and all the particular rigors of becoming a full-on Ranger. They were held to the same standards as the men, with no compromises. It is quite an achievement.
But they are actually not the first to participate in combat for their country. Just the first to complete this level of training, and as declared women. There have been others but they had to hide, be dressed as male soldiers, in the American Revolution or other conflicts, with a few of them enlisting in disguise.

Anne Bailey, known as Samuel Gay, acted as a frontier scout, serving in the Revolutionary War and the Northwest Indian War. In 1791, she made a famous ride through the frontier to find much-needed gun powder to help secure the endangered Clendenin Settlement, later known as Charleston, WV.

Deborah Sampson, at left,  served in the Continental Army during the Revolution, serving for 17 months under the name Robert Shurtliff, of Uxbridge, MA, She was wounded in 1782, and later honorable discharged at West Point in 1783.   

Then, there was Hannah Snell, at right, an English woman, who joined the British Marines after the death of her daughter. Her unit sailed to India to capture the French colony of Pondicherry. She fought in a battle in Devicotta in June of 1749. She was wounded 11 times, once to the groin, and asked a sympathetic Indian nurse not to reveal her identity during treatment. She was honorably discharged in 1750.

The magnitude and extent of today's Ranger training makes people sit up and take notice, but relatively speaking, the accomplishments and service of these 18th Century women was just as bold. Personally, I don't have the constitution or inclination to lift a 180+ man through a muddy jungle. Or shave back my tresses or get rid of my mascara. It's not for everyone, but for those who want that kind of thing, I say why not. Women have taken their place in all walks of life previously only designated for men. Just don't give me a US President named Hilary this coming election.

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