Women's History Month: Proud heritage inspires today's women

  • Published
  • By 1Lt. Martha Petersante-Gioia
  • 66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Editor's Note: This is the final article in a series highlighting Hanscom women and their accomplishments during National Women's History Month. 

As Air Force personnel reflect on the service's accomplishments and heritage over the past 60 years, I find myself reflecting on a small group of dedicated ladies who cannot go unnamed. 

Two years ago, I had the privilege and honor to meet living legends of both women's history and air power: the Women Airforce Service Pilots. These brave ladies took to the skies during the tumultuous time of WWII and served their country with pride. As I assisted in their tour of the local area, we chatted about what it was like then; "You did what?" was a common phrase echoed in disbelief by the other female officer participants as the ladies told gallant tales of the glory days of aviation. I challenge everyone to look at today's pilots and see the influence of these landmark ladies. 

Today women fly with the Thunderbirds, an elite group of exceptional demonstration pilots; they also command crews onboard airborne tankers, delivering fuel to complete the missions within the treacherous Area of Responsibility throughout the globe. Also, today women pilots fly wingtip to wingtip with their male counterparts just as the WASPs dreamed of more than 60 years ago. 

Women haven't just made a difference within the armed services or in one era. Look to Rosa Parks, who inspired a generation to stand up against segregation. Or turn to Eileen Collins, who flew in outer space, piloting the space shuttle. Women have and will continue to change and mold the world today. 

Throughout March, the base community saw first-hand how women are changing the world we live in. Through frank and open panel discussions with leaders, women tackled the tough questions about what it takes to be successful -- not only in their jobs, but in life. Stories were told of challenges overcome and obstacles completed, all the while hoping to inspire the next generation of women. 

As Hanscom ends this month's long celebration of women, I cannot help but think that these stories and those of others will be lost again for the next 11 months, only to be dusted off again come springtime. Let's not allow this to become reality.