Friday, January 28, 2022

Legion to Honor Women in the Military

Photo by Steve Stefanides

Marco Island will commemorate Veteran’s Day on Monday, November 12, as the island recognizes all veterans and their service to their nation. This year the event will pay special tribute to the women who have served in the armed forces, whether during peace time or during conflicts that have involved our military’s participation.

The ceremony will be hosted by Marco Island’s Post 404 of the American Legion. Their Post was created in February of 2014. The American Legion affords membership to honorably discharged veterans of seven wartime periods: World War I & II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, Lebanon/Granada, Panama, Persian Gulf and Afghanistan, and for any active duty time served from August 2, 1990 to today.

The American Legion is the nation’s largest veterans organization and was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans’ affairs, Americanism and youth programs.

This year’s recognition of women in the military has a special significance, as the Florida Commander of the American Legion is a woman.

Dianne M. Boland, a Legionnaire from Post 117 in Palm Bay, Florida, was elected Department Commander on July 7, 2018 in Orlando, Florida, during the 100th Department Convention. Commander Boland is a twenty-four year continuous member. She is the first woman to be elected to the top position of the American Legion, Department of Florida.

Commander Boland entered the United States Air Force in 1965, completing basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. She served on active-duty as an Accounting and Disbursement Specialist until her honorable discharge in 1968. She served active in the reserves as Air Cargo Specialist from 1978 until her retirement in 1998. She retired a Chief Master Sergeant

Boland has served in a variety of positions throughout the last twenty-four years at the post, district and department levels. At the post level, she served as Historian, Finance Officer, Adjutant, 1st Vice Commander and Commander. She won the honor of being selected “Legionnaire of the Year 1998.” At the district level, she served as Scholarship Fund Chairman, DMS Coordinator, Vice Commander and Commander. At the Department level, she served as Children and Youth Chairman, Membership Chairman, Americanism Chairman, and Special Olympics Chairman. She also served as 3rd, 2nd and 1st Vice Commander.

Women have formally been a part of the United States Armed Forces since the inception of the Army Nurse Corps in 1901, but have informally served since the inception of our nation’s military. In 1948, Congress made women a permanent part of the military service. The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948 limited the proportion of women in the military to 2% of the enlisted force and 10% of officers. This limit was repealed in 1967.

With the end of the draft in 1973 and the inception of the All-Volunteer Forces, women saw a rapid increase in opportunities that had previously been denied them. Today they serve at all levels and in all aspects of the American military landscape.

It is estimated that 200,000 women are on active duty status today in the military and by 2020 they will account for 11% of the total military veteran population.

Lee Rubenstein, Commander of local Post 404 of the American Legion urged attendees to arrive early as a large crowd is anticipated. “This will be the eighth year that we will be holding this special event here within the memorial that was created and funded by the citizens of Marco. It is a special place, and one which we can all be proud of,” said Rubenstein.

The ceremonies on November 12 will begin sharply at 11 AM and will include a number of dignitaries who will participate in the observance. County Commissioner Donna Fiala, State Senator Kathleen Passidomo, Vice Chair Charlette Roman of the Marco Island City Council, amongst others. Roman herself is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Army (Col. Ret).

Senator Passidomo will be delivering the keynote address, while Commissioner Fiala and Councilor Roman will also make presentations.

A special memento will be presented to all of the women who have served in the military that are present during the ceremonies and a place of honor will be designated for them for seating at the event.

Local community activist Keith Dameron will emcee the event which will include recognition of all branches of the Armed Services, including a presentation of the history of women in the military and a fly-over during the ceremony.

Make a note of the change of the traditional date and plan to be in attendance on Monday, November 12 to honor our Armed Forces at 11 AM. It is suggested that you bring your own lawn chairs as seating is limited.

The Marco Island Veterans Community Park is located at 901 Park Avenue on Marco Island.

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