West Virginia State Capitol Complex Walking Tour

West Virginia Female Veterans' Memorial

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art ()

Overview Listen

Located at the State Capitol Complex, this statue is the first memorial to honor West Virginia’s female soldiers. It is also the only sculpture on the Capitol grounds depicting a woman. The work was sculpted by artist Joe Mullins to represent a female veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, yet her attire does not represent any particular branch of the service. The statue is symbolic of the sacrifices and commitment of all the women who have served in the US Armed Forces.


Photo Female veterans of WWII at dedication ceremony
Photo West Virginia Female Veterans' Memorial
Photo West Virginia Female Veterans' Memorial

Backstory Listen

Approval for the memorial of West Virginia's female veterans was approved back in 1998. The statue was actually complete well in advance of its unveiling, but groups argued over its location (right next to the preexisting West Virginia Veterans Memorial) and the depiction of the soldier. Veterans took issue with the design and argued the woman should be in dress uniform as opposed to the relaxed military fatigues.

One of the most notable examples of women in the military was the establishment of WAVES standing for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.  Over 27,000 American women served in the WAVES program. Women in the service during World War II took up far more responsibilities than they had previously in World War I, where they served only as nurses or secretaries. While clerical jobs still made up a large portion of WAVES positions, but thousands of WAVES personnel performed other jobs such as aviation mechanics and intelligence personnel. By 1948, women had gained permanent status in the armed services of the United States.

From the birth of the United States to the present, women have played invaluable roles in the country's military efforts. Woman have been important assets from their support roles as cooks and nurses in the Revolutionary War to serving in direct combat roles in current current engagements. Today there are few roles left in the US military that a woman cannot fill (submarine duty, SEALs, etc.)

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Marks, Rusty. "Female Soldier Statue Dedicated in Charleston" WV Gazette. November 12, 2011. Accessed December 12, 2014. http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201111120006

"Contributions of Women in the Military Throughout U.S. History" Allied Business Schools, Inc. Accessed December 12, 2014. http://www.education4military.com/blog/contributions-of-women-in-military.aspx

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