Office of Public Engagement

"One Could Not Help But Be Touched"

Colonel Emma Coulson, US Army, is the Military Director of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues in the Services (DACOWITS).  She is also the designee on the White House Council on Women and Girls from the Department of Defense.  Col. Coulson was invited to the White House by the Council and asked to blog about her experience:  
What a great day for our military Sisters in Blue last week.  However, they were not singing the blues, but rather celebrating, with their 'senior' women pilot counterparts from WWII.  Together, in the Oval Office, they looked over the shoulders of President Obama signing into law S. 614, a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).  As one of the WWII pilots said "well, that only took 66 years" :-), one could not help but be touched by the excitement and unbelief of the grandmotherly-aged women, who represented the WASPs, for hundreds who have since passed on. 
Equally touching was our Commander in Chief's gracious and respectful response to their shared stories and comments.  From the Green side of the house, I was proud and privileged to both be witness to the ceremony, and witness to our Commander in Chief setting right a long overdue recognition.  His actions lend strength to the understanding that honor, duty and selfless service to our Nation has nothing to do with gender, and neither does saying thank you.
 
(WASP pilot Bernice Falk Haydu pulls back the chair of President Barack Obama after signing S.614, a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots, in the Oval Office Wednesday, July 1, 2009. At far left is WASP pilot Elaine Danforth Harmon, and at right is Lorraine H. Rodgers. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is at right in green. Current US Air Force pilots are in the background. Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was established during World War II, and from 1942 to 1943, more than a thousand women joined, flying sixty million miles of non-combat military missions. Of the women who received their wings as Women Airforce Service Pilots, approximately 300 are living today. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)
 

(President Barack Obama signs S.614, a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots, in the Oval Office Wednesday, July 1, 2009. Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was established during World War II, and from 1942 to 1943, more than a thousand women joined, flying sixty million miles of non-combat military missions. Of the women who received their wings as Women Airforce Service Pilots, approximately 300 are living today. Flanking the President are Bernice Falk Haydu, far left, Elaine Danforth Harmon, and Lorraine H. Rodgers, right. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is at far right. Behind the President are active duty US Air Force pilots. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
 

(President Barack Obama with WASP pilots Elaine Danforth Harmon, left, Bernice Falk Haydu and Lorraine H. Rodgers, right, after signing S.614, a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots, in the Oval Office Wednesday, July 1, 2009. Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was established during World War II, and from 1942 to 1943, more than a thousand women joined, flying sixty million miles of non-combat military missions. Of the women who received their wings as Women Airforce Service Pilots, approximately 300 are living today. Also pictured are active duty US Air Force pilots and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
 
Army Strong.  COL Emma K. Coulson

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