A new monument at Veterans Memorial Park in Las Cruces, N.M., places a much-deserved spotlight on the nation's female veterans.
Architect Patricia Grumet Decker designed the monument, which was dedicated March 10 and features six life-size bronze statues representing Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Army National Guard female recruits in detailed uniforms from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, and current eras. The statues were created from detailed maquettes sculpted by artist Matt Glenn.
The nonprofit United Military Women of the SouthWest (UMWSW) initiated the project and received funding from the state for its construction. The original estimated cost was $306,200, but the legislature ended up providing $406,200, notes former Marine Corps Capt. Carol Gaines, past president of the UMWSW.
Gaines pushed for the monument because she felt all women who have served deserve to be recognized, whether they served in uniform or helped the war effort by assuming jobs traditionally held by men. “Women took office jobs, they took welding jobs - they did whatever needed to be done,” Gaines says.
Christine Sautter, USAR (Ret), a member of MOAA and of the Women Veterans of New Mexico, says the monument is important because it gives a voice to the women who went unrecognized for their military service upon returning home.
“I know many nurses who served in Vietnam, came home, and quietly went about their lives,” Sautter says. “No one really recognized them. It was the same for women who served in World War I and World War II. This monument speaks to our dedication to our nation and to our service. It's important that women are now being heard, and that they receive recognition for a job well done.”