By Madeline Kirsch
What do the years 1948, 2010 and 2013 have in common? Progress.
President Harry S. Truman integrated the military in 1948; Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed by Congress and President Obama in December 2010; and on Jan. 23, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta lifted a Pentagon ban that’s prevented women from combat positions since 1994.
It’s about time. Throughout history, people have long believed that having blacks, gays or women alongside “regular” soldiers would hurt the effectiveness of the military.
But so far, the inclusion of minorities in our armed forces hasn’t proved detrimental in any way. A significant number of other countries, including New Zealand, England, Germany, and Italy.
Given this, it only seems fair that positions on the front line be opened to all women qualified and willing to put their lives on the line.
Shelby Snyder ‘14, an avid marksman herself, said, “I think this is a great step. There’s no reason why women shouldn’t be allowed to serve. Despite physical differences, fitness requirements make sure everyone can perform the necessary duties.”
While this may be a huge legal victory, it negates one important thing: hundreds of women have already served in harm’s way, and 139 have died in combat-related situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ignoring this fact would discredit the lives of the fallen soldiers.
Some worry about what could happen if women were taken as prisoners of war, or if emotions became heated during an intense combat situation.
Obviously we can’t see the future, so these hypotheticals remain to be seen.
However, those who join the military, especially those who wish to serve in combat, are aware of the risks they face.
No matter how the American public takes this integration, big changes are certainly ahead.