The Blagg-Huey Library at Texas Women’s university held an event Saturday for veteran women, celebrating their bravery and determination during their service.
“Today is about persevering,” said Camilla Zimbal, Commander of Chapter 48 of the Women Veterans of America. “It’s about honor, respect and recognition as a veteran. Women have served in the military for 244 years, so we’re hoping to inspire others that the perseverance of women in the past is for the women of the future.”
Zimbal served for six years in the United States Armed Forces and said she is entirely dedicated to remaining as a voice for women who have and are serving in the U.S. military.
Zimbal also said the celebration of Women’s Veterans Day is not an exclusion of the men who have or are currently serving but a mark in the history of when women were included with their military brethren and in service.
A short documentary from the TWU archives on the history of women who served was shown following Zimbal’s remarks.
Family and friends came out to recognize the accomplishments of these women and pay their respect to the women veterans.
“We need to share within our community, the Denton community, the achievements that our women veterans have done,” said Kimberly Johnson, the Texas Women’s University Director of Special Collections. “All of these women need to be given the recognition that they deserve.”
Several veteran women spoke about their own experiences and the experiences of other women around them. A current U.S. soldier of 10 years, Charity Wright, was recognized and spoke about her hardships while serving.
“Trials produce perseverance,” said Wright. “I’ve met hundreds of women in battle over the years, and they all share something in common — the supernatural ability to survive and thrive beyond hardship. We’ve made it through discrimination, homelessness, through trauma, grief and loss. And yet here we are. Because we refuse to give up on ourselves, our family and our country. That is perseverance.”
The discrimination of women in the military was brought up by multiple attendees.
“I felt it my duty to be the first woman in my family to serve,” said Lyndie Lynn Lytle, of the U.S. Army. “In boot camp, I had to run harder, run faster, do more push-ups, do more sit-ups than the men because I’m a woman. A petite woman. They would look at me like, ‘oh, that’s cute,’ and so I had to prove myself.”
After the members spoke, the documentary “Silver Wings/Flying Dreams: The Complete Story of the Women Air Force Service Pilots,” was shown in the next room.
Veterans watching the movie laughed and cried while nudges were given to one another when the difficulties of sharing cots and fights over the use of the latrines was mentioned. People cried when elderly pilots would speak about losing friends in combat.
“It is from diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped,” said Zimbal. “Each time a veteran woman stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lives of others, she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.”
Featured Image: A uniform patch for Women Veterans of America worn at a Texas Women Veterans Day event at Blagg-Huey Library at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas on June 15, 2019. Photo by Emily Olkkola