Women Vets Denied Military Honors at Arlington
Sign the Petition to Change this NOW!
Submitted by the Harmon family
During World War II, a brave group of women joined the war effort by enlisting in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Elaine Danforth Harmon was one of these 1,074 women pilots.
These brave and dedicated servicewomen worked stateside ferrying planes, towing targets for gunnery training, and serving as instruments instructors for male pilots. Thirty-eight of these pilots died in service to their country.
Now, Elaine’s and her colleagues request for full military burial honors at Arlington National Cemetery are being denied.
The WASP’s long road to recognition took decades of lobbying.
They finally earned veteran status in 1977 under public law 95-202. And in 2009, President Obama signed a bill awarding the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal.
It was Elaine’s dying wish to be interred at Arlington National Cemetery. When she passed away in April, 2015 her family, including her son, Bill Harmon of Cape May County, NJ, began to see to it her wishes were carried out.
According to the Harmon family, eligibility of military funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) came into question for these servicewomen in 2002. At that time the then assistant Secretary of the Army in charge of ANC, Reginald Brown, asked for a review of the rules.
As a result, Brown clarified the issue reporting that it was the intent of PL 95-202 to provide interment with military honors for the WASP in the ANC Columbarium. He then authorized ANC to provide WASP the same honor and recognition afforded most veterans, who have at least one day of active service for other than training and an Honorable Discharge.
Without making any statement of policy change or providing any notification to the Veteran’s Administration or veterans covered under PL95-202, Former Secretary of the Army, John McHugh recently withdrew authorization from ANC to equally recognize these veterans with a place in ANC. McHugh was a civilian and has never served in the military.
The Harmon family, as well as thousands of other Americans refuse to allow this to continue and are asking the public to support their efforts to change this ruling by signing a petition established on Change.org.
Click HERE to be taken to the petition site.
Elaine’s ashes are sitting in a closet awaiting this decision.
“She was incredibly proud of her service as a WASP, and she loved her country. It was her wish to be inurned at Arlington alongside her sister WASP and other veterans who proudly served this country,” the petition reads.
Rep Martha McSally (Arizona), the first female air force combat pilot, has introduced a bill House Bill 4336 on the floor of the House of Representatives. McSally has 24 house co-sponsors. The family asks you to also call your federal representatives and urge them to vote for this bill.
For more information about Elaine Harmon’s life, read her obituary published in the Baltimore Sun HERE.