24 May 2016
Last week, President Obama signed a bill into law which allows the remains of women air force service pilots to be buried with their fellow heroes from World War II at the Arlington cemetery.
This came as a result of the online petition launched by Tiffany Miller advocating the right to bury the ashes of her grandmother, Danforth Harmon who was a World War II pilot at Arlington Cemetery.
One would wonder why anyone would go to such lengths; it is after all just a cemetery. However, the Arlington cemetery is more than just a cemetery. It houses the remains of military veterans – world war II heroes. It is an important location to Americans.
However, women air force service pilots who flew non-combat flights were not regarded as veterans to many – this has been a matter of debate for years in America. Due to the fact that they were not regarded veterans, they could not be buried in Arlington cemetery until 2002.
In 2015 however, the former Army Secretary, John McHugh took away that right after a legal decision was reached stipulating that “such active duty designees as the women pilots were officially referred to by the military did not meet the army’s eligibility rules to be buried at Arlington where grave space is in high demand.”
Obama’s law has revoked this decision. More than a thousand women flew as women air service pilots and over 3 dozen women died in this line of duty.