They’re out there, Margaret Lane knows they are. She’s one too, after all.
Lane served in the Women in the Air Force during the 1950s, when the Korean War was being fought. But there are women of every generation, from every war and every branch of the military who served their country and Lane would like to find as many of those women as possible.
For one thing, Lane said, she wants to make sure the women who served know about the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, located at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
According to a brochure about the memorial, some “2.5 million women have served in defense of America.” Lane registered her service record when the monument was completed and dedicated in 1997. Now, she said, every letter she receives from the foundation encourages her to spread the word so that other women who served will know.
“It doesn’t cost anything,” Lane said. “Donations are needed and accepted, but any woman who served in the military, at any time, can register.
“When they register, their story is stored on a computerized registry in the monument. Each woman’s story has a permanent place in America’s history,” Lane said. “Like this brochure says, ‘What we don’t record . . . we lose.’”
The Women in Military Service for America Memorial brochure also states that the memorial recognizes all women who have served in or with the armed forces — past, present and future; documents the experiences of women and tells their stories of service, sacrifice and achievement; and makes their contributions a visible part of American history.
Lane was a very young girl, growing up in Gary, Ind., when the U.S. entered World War II.
“I can remember ration books, red points, blue points, paper drives and scrap metal drives,” she said. “I guess patriotism was instilled in me at that time.”
Later, in high school, Lane and a friend made a pact they would join the Air Force when they were 18. Lane, the older of the two girls, waited until the friend was old enough and they went together to enlist. The friend got accepted, Lane “got rejected” because her weight did not fall below the maximum limit.
“I was crushed,” Lane said. “But six weeks later, St. Patrick’s Day of 1953, I was sworn in. It took a lot of willpower and prayer, but I made it.”
Her three years of service, Lane said, were years “I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
She became a weather instrument observer for the Air Force and before her enlistment was up became an instructor.
“To this day, I relive some of the times. I did my share of KP. Shining shoes, that was a big thing. Oh, and making a bed with square corners — that’s still the way I make the bed,” Lane said.
And, it was at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Ill., that she met another instructor, Hal Lane, the man to whom she’s been married for 53 years.
“This brochure on the Women in Military Service for America Memorial says it is the individual experiences that make up the collective history,” Lane said. “‘Help make sure the story of women serving in defense of our nation is never forgotten. Every servicewoman’s story is important.’
“My goal is for as many women as I can find to get themselves in their rightful place in the memorial.”
Lane said she has registration applications, and would be glad to share more information with fellow female veterans. Her phone number is 646-1011.
The mailing address for the memorial is Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation Inc.; Dept. 560, Washington, DC 20042-0560 and the toll-free contact number is (800) 222-2294.