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Weekend Update March 26th: This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

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Kayla Williams, Publication of The Road Ahead, and More Women's History Month Reading Suggestions

Love My RifleThis Week's WWrite Featured Post: Equal Pay, Equal Benefits:Acclaimed Veteran Writer Kayla Williams Presents Loretta Perfectus Walsh, the First Enlisted Woman in the U.S. Military This week's WWrite Blog, the third in the Women's History Month series, features veteran writer Kayla Williams as she presents Loretta Perfectus Walsh, the first enlisted woman in the U.S. Military. Williams is the director of the Center for Women Veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and author of the acclaimed memoir, Love My Rifle More Than You. In her post, Williams discusses the pathbreaking military career of Loretta Perfectus Walsh in WWI. She was the first woman to officially enlist, as a woman, earning equal pay and benefits. Not to be missed!

Connie Ruzich, Fulbright Scholar, writer, and author of the WWI poetry blog, Behind Their Lines, will introduce CMH hero and WWI poet, Lt. John Hunter Wickersham, for next week's blog post.

Read more: Weekend Update March 26th: This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

Equal Pay, Equal Benefits: Acclaimed Veteran Writer Kayla Williams Presents Loretta Perfectus Walsh, the First Enlisted Woman in the U.S. Military

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Equal Pay, Equal Benefits:Acclaimed Veteran Writer Kayla Williams Presents Loretta Perfectus Walsh, the First Enlisted Woman in the U.S. Military
Loretta Walsh credit www.doncio.navy .mil 247x300

When I enlisted in the Army in 2000, my pay was identical to that of all other servicemembers with my same rank and time in service. It did not occur to me at the time that this not only put the military in stark contrast to many other career fields, but was also the result of trailblazing women who paved the way for the rest of us. (Left photo, Loretta Walsh, credit www.doncio.navy.mil)


Loretta Perfectus Walsh was the first. Not the first woman to fight on behalf of America – that honor dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War – but the first to officially enlist, as a woman, earning equal pay and benefits. Earlier, women served either alongside their husbands or disguised as men (in an era of, shall we say, more relaxed entrance examinations!). Later, they could serve in one of the Nurse Corps – but without equal pay, benefits, and rank.

Read more: Equal Pay, Equal Benefits: Acclaimed Veteran Writer Kayla Williams Presents Loretta Perfectus...

March 19th WWrite Blog Weekend Update - This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

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This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site: Jerri Bell, Women Veterans Writing Workshop, and Women's History Month Reading Suggestions

MJS1987This Week's WWrite Featured Post: Jerri Bell writes about Marjory Stoneman Douglas For the second Women's History Month post, Navy veteran and writer Jerri Bell discusses the dynamic career of female WWI veteran, Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Bell introduces the undiscovered richness of Douglas' long life (she died at 108!) as a prolific writer, Naval servicewoman in WWI, and political and environmental activist. What a story! (Photo left: Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1987. Credit: Mary Lou Foy/The Miami Herald).

Williams will write about Loretta Walsh, the first woman to join the Navy, for next week's blog post.

Read more: March 19th WWrite Blog Weekend Update - This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

Navy Veteran Jerri Bell Presents WWI Navy Yeoman (F) First Class Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Writing Advice, Writing Life

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Navy Veteran Jerri Bell Presents WWI Navy Yeoman (F) First Class Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Writing Advice, Writing Life

Jerri Bell introduces the undiscovered richness of Douglas' long life (she died at 108!) as a prolific writer, Naval servicewoman in WWI, and political activist

Marjory Stoneman Douglas as a young woman (undated). Credit: Marjory Stoneman papers, Special Collections, University of Miami LibrariesMarjory Stoneman Douglas as a young woman (undated). Credit: Marjory Stoneman papers, Special Collections, University of Miami LibrariesHer short stories weren't bad, Marjory Stoneman Douglas said in her autobiography, Voice of the River, "but they weren't the newfangled concise dramatic short stories of the Hemingway school. Though many of the men who'd served in the First World War had been prepared for that kind of Hemingway writing, I was not a part of it. I didn't subscribe to the Hemingway thinking. I was more or less tied into the mainstream from which Hemingway was estranged. I couldn't write in that bare, stark way in which a story begins like a slap in the face."

Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1987. Credit: Mary Lou Foy/The Miami Herald Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1987. Credit: Mary Lou Foy/The Miami Herald This may be one of the reasons that Douglas is not counted among the "war writers" of World War I despite a distinguished literary record and her use of characters, settings, and anecdotes from her experiences during the war in her fiction.

Douglas was already living an unconventional life at the beginning of the war. A 1912 graduate of Wellesley, she married a con artist thirty years her senior and divorced him a year later when her father uncovered details of his financial fraud and forgery. In 1915 she moved to the then-small backwater town of Miami, Florida and became the society editor for her father's newspaper, the News Record (later the Miami Herald). Sent to cover the story of the first woman in Miami to become a Yeoman (Female) when the Navy first opened enlistment to women, Douglas ended up taking her place. "I arrived at the ship and the next thing I knew I was sticking up my hand, swearing to protect and defend the United States of America from all enemies whatsoever. I guess they talked me into it." The recruiters, she said, "came on very strong."

Read more: Navy Veteran Jerri Bell Presents WWI Navy Yeoman (F) First Class Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Writing...

U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Tracy Crow Writes About WWI Female Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand (Ginger Rogers' Mother!)

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U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Tracy Crow Writes about WWI Female Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand (1891-1977)

Writer Tracy Crow links her own experience as a female Marine to the extraordinary yet forgotten history of Lela Leibrand, one of the first ten women to join the Marines in 1918:

Lela Leibrand courtesy of Women Marines Association blogLela Leibrand courtesy of Women Marines Association blogIn 1977, the same year World War I Marine Corps veteran Lela Leibrand, perhaps better known as the mother of dancer and actress Ginger Rogers, was buried, I joined the Marines and began a career in public affairs, writing press releases for civilian media and articles for military newspapers and magazines, just as Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand had in 1918.

Of course I didn't know this in 1977. I wish I had.

In 1977, I was toiling away on releases and articles under the sexist, watchful direction of a top enlisted man who walked around the press pit striking the side of his leg with a yardstick like a metronome to rush us young Marine reporters toward deadlines. For me, the only enlisted woman reporter in the pit, he meted out special praise such as, "You proved you're more than a good looking pair of legs, after all." In 1977, I was unaware, and no doubt so was he, that I was actually standing metaphorically and historically on the shoulders of Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand.

Read more: U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Tracy Crow Writes About WWI Female Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand (Ginger...

March 12th WWrite Blog Weekend Update - This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

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Tracy Crow, Citizens Create, Indie Film Fest, Trench Coat

News Items from this Week

Lela Leibrand courtesy of Women Marines Association blog pictured with husband and daughter Ginger RogersThis Week's WWrite Featured Post: Tracy Crow and Lela Leibrand In the first post to celebrate and honor Women's History Month, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Tracy Crow Writes about WWI Female Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand (Ginger Rogers' Mother!) A U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Writer, Tracy Crow, author of critically-acclaimed works about the veteran experience and writing, discusses WWI Female Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand, one of the first 10 women to join the Marine Corps in 1918. Leibrand was also mother to star Ginger Rogers. A great read! And, as always, please encourage friends to subscribe to the blog! Look out for Jerri Bell's post about Marjory Stoneman Douglas up next! (Photo of Leibrand, her husband, and Ginger Rogers, her daughter. Courtesy of Women Marines Association Blog)

Read more: March 12th WWrite Blog Weekend Update - This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

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