New Florida Memorial Celebrates Women Veterans Throughout America's History
A new memorial dedicated to women veterans will be unveiled in Florida's Destin-Fort Walton Beach tomorrow—just in in time for Veterans Day.
The Women Veterans Memorial features eight life-size bronze statues honoring women who bravely fought in wars throughout history. Located in Okaloosa County's 17.5-acre Veterans Park, the new memorial is a welcome addition to the military town that's home to the largest air force base in the world, as well as the nation's second largest population of women veterans after D.C.
"Throughout our country's history, women have served proudly in every military conflict," Okaloosa County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel told Southern Living. "While as a military community we are proud of all veterans, this memorial is unique in the nation, in that is seeks to specifically recognize women military heroes and their invaluable contributions, with life-size statues and stories of their significant contributions."
The eight statues are dispersed throughout the park and are accessible via ADA accessible paved sidewalks and wooden boardwalks. The memorial path starts with a dedication plaza featuring a U.S. flag, POW-MIA flag, Florida flag, and county flags. From there, visitors can take a tour through history led by eight of country's most notable female veterans.
The tour begins with Revolutionary War veteran Margaret Cochran Corbin, who joined the Continental Army alongside her husband in 1775. Corbin was known for her aim and accuracy in manning cannons and muskets. She fought valiantly during a clash at Fort Washington in upper Manhattan and was severely injured in the process. In 1779, Congress recognized her service, making her the first female military member to be recognized by the new government.
The memorial also features a statue of Cathay Williams, the only documented Black woman who served as a soldier in the U.S. Army during the Civil War, as well as the only known female Buffalo Soldier.
Other statues honor Lenah Higbee, who served in the Navy during WWI; Jacqueline Cochran, who was an Air Force Reserve in WWII; Jonita Ruth Bnham-Bovee, a Korean War Air Force vet; Sharon Ann Lane, a Vietnam War Army nurse, and Leigh Ann Hester, who served in the Army National Guard during the Persian Gulf War.
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The memorial is closed out by Naseema, a hero of the War in Afghanistan who was born in Afghanistan and came to the U.S. as a teenager to get an education. She enlisted in the Air Force in 1985 and later became a master sergeant.
The new memorial officially opens to the public on Nov. 11. We're already planning our mid-winter beach getaway to see it!