It’s Veterans Day, and if you spend time exploring your part of the U.S., you’re likely to find a few memorials to veterans.
We have dedicated statues, memorial walls, works of art, plaques, flags, bridges, roads and more to those who have served in the military.
Today we have the story of a living memorial that was almost forgotten over decades and generations, but has been rediscovered in our time.
It’s in New York’s Central Park, and officially known as the Women’s Overseas Service League Flagstaff and Grove.
The Women’s Overseas Service League was founded in 1921 to serve women veterans of the first World War, by pushing for the government to recognize them as veterans and grant them all the benefits to which veterans are entitled.
More than 11,000 women served in the U.S. Navy during the war, in a variety of roles, including as non-commissioned officers.
There were also over 22,000 women in the Army and Navy Nurse Corps, plus many operators for the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
And that’s before we bring up the many volunteers with the Red Cross and other organizations, or those who contributed to the U.S. mobilization while staying on the home front.
In 1925 the New York City Parks Department set aside a space along Fifth Avenue to honor some of the women who gave their lives in war service.
The Overseas Service League contributed 24 saplings and a flagstaff, and starting in 1932 the site hosted annual ceremonies to pay tribute to these women, with a color guard raising the flag and a bugler on hand to play “Taps.”
But as time passed, the memorial grove became less and less prominent, more a part of the green space in Central Park.
The annual ceremonies stopped.
Last year that changed, as people looked more closely at the spot and its history and realized what it was.
And, at a time when women veterans are by many accounts the fastest growing group of veterans in the U.S., they held their own ceremony, giving some more attention to an often overlooked monument to often overlooked women who served the United States.
Women in World War I (TheWorldWar.org)