I knew immediately I wanted to participate in the Proudly She Served show when I got the call from Bernie DeLisle, President and co-founder of The Peace Gallery in Damariscotta Maine. Bernie is a Marine Corps veteran and served as a helicopter crew chief during Vietnam. His story felt familiar: he followed in his mother and father’s footsteps into the Marine Corps, whereas I followed my parent’s footsteps into the Air Force.
Bernie founded The Peace Gallery with the understanding that a lot of veterans struggle to adapt back to civilian life, or struggle with memories of their time in service. The Peace Gallery is an excellent touchstone to create support and amplify the voice of creatives within the veteran community.
I am thrilled to participate in a show that honors the service, legacy and creativity of women veterans. I graduated from the United States Air Force Academy as a member of the class of 2013, which was only the 33rd class of women to graduate. The “80’s Ladies” paved the way starting in 1976 and I walk in the silver footsteps of their service. My mother is a Navy veteran, and when she was in the service (also in the 80s) the Navy had only recently allowed women to serve aboard ships.
In my speech at my promotion to the rank of Major I thanked my mom and told the audience that she taught me tenacity. I told them I have had the privilege to sprint through the doors the servicewomen of her generation kicked down. I walk in the glass of ceilings shattered by the women who have come before me.
I am humbled to walk along the path of opportunity paved by the women who showed up at the “Bring Me Men” ramp in 1976, my mom, Genevieve, and so many more. I am proud to continue laying the groundwork, hand in hand with the amazing women I have served alongside, for future generations to define their own paths.
It is an incredibly aligned opportunity to participate in The Peace Gallery’s Proudly She Served show alongside other women veterans. The stories and unique perspectives of women veterans are not shared enough, and it is exciting to join the mission of The Peace Gallery and challenge that status quo. My next blog post, Proudly She Served: The Art, will dive into the five paintings I selected for the show!