27 November 2018


By Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Use your fear ... it can take you to the place where you store your courage. Amelia Earhart

In past commentary I've made mention of Dr. Charles Ferguson.

Dr. Ferguson was Chancellor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (renamed after being a women's college) back in the 70s when I was a student.

Dr. Ferguson was not only a professor but student of history. A remark he made during a student body address regarding the importance of knowing history struck a chord.

Dr. Ferguson's sentiment was without knowledge of history one essentially suffers amnesia.

Ever since ... I read. And read. And read. And read. 

Non-fiction; with rare exception. 

Non-fiction currently underway called for short comment today.

For more than a handful of years now there's been a lot of noise about women in ground combat.

A lot of noise. Most civil. Some not so much. 

Experiments, data, and fact have added to the noise. 

But the orderly noise of experiments, data, and fact have been drowned out by the blaring, screeching, chaotic noise of agenda. 

And so women are in ground combat to include assignment to infantry units.

I've added, orderly so in my opinion, to the noise (in more than a handful of commentaries).

An infantry officer of Marines by training and experience, I do not believe women in ground combat units is a good idea. For plenty of reasons (not worth rehashing) I've presented with civility though at times pointed while making that argument. To no avail. 

Dutifully, I spoke. Conscience clear. 

Not until yesterday did I come to know it was Amelia (for one) who had the big idea women should be in ground combat. 

In fact, Amelia proposed that women should be drafted. And that women should be treated just as men sharing equally in the dirty work. 

And yet in the current ongoing debate not one woman, nor man, advocating for women in ground combat has cited Amelia in their argument. [At least not that I recall or have been able to find in research.] 

Why not?

Citing Dr. Ferguson the logical conclusion is for ignorance of history. Not reading. Thus, suffering amnesia. 

Who is Amelia?

Perhaps her surname rings familiar?


Yes, America's pioneering female aviator, lost at sea attempting circumnavigation of earth, was an outspoken advocate for women in ground combat (and being drafted). 

Though a pacifist, Amelia Earhart believed in equality; everything. 

And that not so surprising considering the obstacles she conquered in the male-dominated field of aviation.

Ms. Earhart, along with scores of other women whose names do not so easily tumble from memory to tongue, made a lot of noise in her day. Too, some (typically wealthy) men, for reasons of moral and reasons of money, backing them sounded off.

For opportunities aloft some women paid with their lives - during training and official record attempts, too. 

So did men likewise die.

Sometimes aircraft failed. 

Sometimes pilot erred. 

But death is death. 

And the living plod forward. 

Whether death comes by means of airplane crash or ground combat (or falling off a ladder), does it matter? 

After all, no one gets out alive. 

Complementing my reading about aviation I'm becoming familiar with The Stoics, daily. 

If unfamiliar with The Stoics then I suggest so doing - for a daily dose of reality, reasoned perspective, and injection of calm as counter to all the noise. 

Eighty-five years ago there was strong public opinion women had no business flying airplanes. Any airplanes. Commercial public transports absolutely not.

Make note as to what transpired in less than 85 years - women as captains of commercial public transports, flying high-performance combat aircraft, and everything in between and beyond (into space).  

And make note of where women are serving in our ground forces. 

In 15 years, marking 100 years since Ms. Earhart's public sentiments, will our armed forces have predominately women ground combat units?

Likely not. For there is a big difference between the sundry strengths required to pilot aircraft against the enemy and find, close with, and fight to kill the enemy on the ground.

But who knows. Things change. Things not predictable change predictions. 

What I do know is women and advocates, to date, have missed a big opportunity to strengthen their case by not citing the strong-willed, daring Amelia Earhart.

Ladies, history has warriors on your side. Use them!   

Amelia Earhart just might have made a good Marine. Even an infantryman.

I've nothing more to offer regarding women in ground combat. Like self-leveling cement, the matter will settle itself; one way or another. And history will note. Perhaps a woman killed in ground combat will be tomorrow's Amelia Earhart. Most will be forgotten, relatively speaking; but not collectively as pioneers.  

In closing ...

Recommend a couple of terrific books - one history, one sanity. 

'Fly Girls - How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds And Made Aviation History' by Keith O'Brien

'The Daily Stoic - 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and The Art of Living' by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

Thank you, Dr. Ferguson - for the enduring gift of emphasizing the importance of history. A student was paying attention. And does still; to pass along your message.  

1 comment:

Gramps said...

"And does still; to pass along your message..."

Eminently worth sharing!