Officials in one Florida county marked Veterans Day by unveiling a new set of monuments honoring the contributions of women to the U.S. military throughout history.
The Women Veterans Monuments Trail was established as part of the walking trail in Veterans’ Park on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, Florida — right along the Choctawhatchee Bay coastline.
The park features eight statues in honor of women who gave back to the country. The tribute makes sense as Florida is home to more female veterans than any place in the country outside of Washington, 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 it seeks to specifically recognize women military heroes and their invaluable contributions.”
The trail will take visitors along a path where they will encounter statues of eight women, many with ties to the region.
Margaret Cochran Corbin was the first woman to fight in the Revolutionary War. She was injured during a battle at Fort Washington near Manhattan, and in 1779, became the first female military member to be recognized by the U.S. government and the first to receive a pension.
Cathy Williams is the only documented Black woman who served in the U.S. Army during the Civil War, as well as the only known female Buffalo Soldier.
Lenah Higbee served as superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during World War I, and is the first female recipient of the Navy Cross.
Jacqueline Cochran was an Air Force Reserve during World War II and wartime head of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, which employed about 1,000 civilian American women in non-combat roles to ferry planes from factories to port cities.
Jonita Ruth Bonham-Bovee, a Korean War Air Force veteran and flight nurse, was the first woman to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Sharon Ann Lane was a Vietnam War Army nurse and the only American servicewoman killed as a direct result of enemy fire in the Vietnam War. She posthumously was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism.
Leigh Ann Hester was an Army National Guard member who served during the Persian Gulf War. She is the first female soldier to receive the Silver Star since World War II and the first to be cited for valor in close quarters combat.
There is no charge to visit the memorial, which will be open during regular park hours.
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