Florence County League of Women Voters honors women for service to America

August 27, 2018

FLORENCE, S.C. – A Sunday afternoon program in Florence, sponsored by the Florence County League of Women Voters, honored area women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“I’m very proud of my service during the Korean War,” Phylis Burgh said. Originally from New York, Burgh has made her home in Florence since 1967. “I married a Southern boy…”

Burgh, active in several local veterans groups, likes to remind “the boys” that women drove jeeps, jeep carriers and tanks and piloted planes in the days before being admitted into full-time active duty service.

She enjoys knowing she was, among other things, “a tanker.”

Dr. Scott Kaufman, History Department Chairman at Francis Marion University, told those gathered that the role of women during World War II was to serve in auxiliary units to the Armed Forces. As such, they were not recognized as equals until near the end of that war.

It was the late 1980s and early 1990s before women gained ground in various service areas and as recent as 2015 when the Pentagon acknowledged women would be serving in combat roles.

Women veterans are being recruited to tell their stories, Joetta Chewning with the LWV told the group. Shelly Langston, the liaison between women veterans in South Carolina and the Women’s Memorial in Arlington in Washington, D.C., was on hand to pass out registration forms in an effort to get those stories recorded.

The Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Inc., is asking women to tell their stories, from being among the first to wear maternity uniforms, to any other memorable military experience.

Organized by the Florence County League of Women Voters, this is about the 10th year the group has honored women on Women’s Equality Day, Frances Elmore, LWV member, said.

Chewning created several exhibits about various South Carolina women through history who have served with the military. Her timeline of service started with Sumter-area’s Emily Geiger and her role in the Revolutionary War, and continued through Florence’s Nadine Bragdon Chasteen, who served during World War II.

Annually, she said, the LWV honors outstanding women. This year, they agreed it was fitting to honor our women veterans. She was assisted in the planning of the event by Rosie Holder and Janet Watt.

Women’s Equality Day is celebrated on Aug. 26 and commemorates the 1920 adoption of the 19th Amendment, which prohibits state and federal governments from denying the right to vote to U.S. citizens on the basis of sex. The day was first celebrated in 1973.

Barry Wingard, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and member of the Florence Veterans Park Volunteer Committee, reminded the group about the upcoming Veterans Day service, set for 3 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Florence Veterans Park near the Florence Center. During that event, a new Korean War monument will be dedicated.

“We hope to educate the public, help them to recognize their right to vote, to honor women in the military, and give them credit for their service,” Elmore said.

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