Published: February 2, 2014
Patriots of all ages gathered at Disabled American Veterans Chapter 26 last month for a program saluting U.S. women who have served their country at home and abroad.
The Air Force Academy's Stellar Brass band played the national anthem, and the Pikes Peak Young Marines presented the colors in front of a packed house Jan. 25 at the chapter's headquarters in northeastern Colorado Springs.
Afterward, female veterans swapped war stories and tipped their hats to their historical sisters in arms - those who volunteered as seamstresses and nurses during the Revolutionary War up to modern female troops.
Cindy Anderson, first vice president of the Women's Army Corps, Pikes Peak Chapter, spoke about the period before the Women's Army Corps was formed.
"Congress decided that they were going to vote on a bill to make women part of the Army," she said. "One of our congressmen said, 'Well, if they do that, who's going to stay at home and take care of the kids, do the laundry?' They still haven't figured it out that women can multitask."
Anderson recalled being instructed to fold her underwear a certain way during basic training, which she attended as a member of the women's corps.
Dismayed, a thin-framed Anderson told a friend, "I'm going to buy the biggest bras and panties they've got."
When her friend asked why, she said the answer was simple.
"I looked down at my chest and said, 'Look. I don't think my bras have a prayer of staying folded that way,'" Anderson recalled with a laugh.
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Joyce Juarez told tales of discrimination during her time as an Army military policewoman - because of her gender and her race.
Serving her country and dealing with ignorance for two decades was difficult, but "I did that because God gave me the ability to," the Desert Storm veteran said.
"I appreciate the fact that the Army gave me what I have today - pizzazz, poise . "
"A few things I did not want," she added, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
"And the Army did not issue me a husband," she said.
Each year, Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary units throughout the country put on "Americanism" programs such as Chapter 26's salute to women veterans "to remind us how special America really is," Auxiliary State Commander Marilyn Hogue told the crowd.
"We have the privilege of being able to live free, and hopefully it always stays free. We know who to thank for that."
Americanism programs are "what we do for our community, chapters, veterans and basically, ourselves," said Kathy Hanner, the chapter's Americanism co-chairwoman.
"We can't take our country for granted," she said. "This is to reinforce national pride and serve our community."