Click here or on the above image to view an enlarged version of this infographic from ColumnFive Media.
They say that knowledge of the past is a key to understanding the present. I have a degree in history, so you’d think I’d have a better grasp than most on the contemporary, but unfortunately, I just read a lot of books, wrote a lot of papers and took a lot of tests. I wish it were different, but the truth is, most of the present I have lived through has completely escaped me.
Generation X Women and War
For example, during the years I worked for the Air Force, I did not understand that every day I was working beside Generation X women who were making history. I even interviewed the first female flight commander at Tinker Air Force Base, but because my knowledge of the past was so transient, I could not fully appreciate all that it meant.
Nevertheless, I memorized their service ribbons and the way they clasped their regulation hats in the palms of their hands. I always liked Wednesdays because the entire base was decked out in BDUs. That’s Battle Dress Uniform for all you civilians. We went to lunch often, and oncein awhile, I met them at night at the Officer’s Club. But, you know, I never once asked any of them — Generation X military personnel — what it was like in the desert. I’m sure it was more boring than grim, but I still wish we’d talked about it.It didn’t occur to me until today, when I saw this infographic from ColumnFive Media that Generation X women were paramount to the largest single deployment of U.S. military women in history. The median age for women serving in the Gulf War was 37. In 1990, the oldest Gen Xer was 29.
All this reminds me of those times I showed up to the offices of colonels and generals with my steno pad and pen to write spit-shined retirement stories. I’d say, tell me a word to describe every permanent change of station you’ve had over the last 35 years, and other questions, all asinine to me now. In all these times, I never asked about the bodies in the river Drang. I regret it, because in those moments, sitting across the desk from all that brass, one thing about the present I completely understood was my own inadequacy in telling stories about people who’d been to war.
What’s your opinion on women and war?