Jemima Warner accompanied her husband on a military mission in 1775. He was a soldier with the Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion. While on the way to Quebec, her husband died from pneumonia. She stayed with his unit, serving as the battalion cook. During the siege, she was killed by an enemy bullet. She wasn’t officially a member of the military but she has been recognized by The Women in Military Service Foundation as the first American woman to die in action.
On May 20, 1917, nurses Edith Ayres and Helen Wood were sitting on the deck of the USS Mongolia during a live fire drill. The ship, carrying troops and equipment to France, also had a contingent of nurses on board. The nurses were desperately needed as the US became more engaged in World War I. During the drill, a gun misfired, spraying the women with shrapnel. The two nurses died of their wounds. They were the first to die in the line of duty. More than a thousand women have followed – nurses, Marines, soldiers, sailors, pilots.
Today is Memorial Day. For many families in our country, it is a day of grief and mourning. The high human toll due to warfare not only costs fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons but also mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters. We cannot glorify war, but we can honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives.
Today we remember.