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Okaloosa County Holds 2nd Annual Women Veterans’ Day Ceremony

todayJune 14, 2024 15

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Okaloosa County celebrated the service of women veterans at its 2nd Annual Women Veterans’ Day at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center on the morning of June 12.

The ceremony coincided with the 76th anniversary of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act signed by President Harry S. Truman on June 12, 1948. For the first time, women were allowed to serve as permanent, regular members of the armed forces in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.

Okaloosa County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel welcomed attendees there to “recognize women who have served our nation.” Instrumental in conceiving the concept and execution of Women Veterans Monuments at Veterans Park on Okaloosa Island.

Ketchel was instrumental in leading the mission to establish a memorial park featuring the statues of eight women who served in combat during various U.S. military conflicts. Eight more statues are being considered to install in the park in the future. Four of those monuments will be selected and in the near future.

Keynote speaker Col. Allison Black (USAF Ret.) Col. cited the names of the women currently being honored in Veterans Park:

  • Margaret Corbin (Revolutionary War, Army)
  • Cathay Williams (Civil War, Army)
  • Lenah Higbee (World War I, Navy)
  • Jacqueline Cochran (World War II, Air Force Reserves)
  • Jonita Ruth Bonham (Bovée, Korean War, Army Air Corps / Air Force)
  • Sharon Ann Lane (Vietnam War, US Army Nurse Corps Reserve)
  • Leigh Ann Hester (Persian Gulf War, Army National Guard)
  • Naseema (War in Afghanistan, US Air Force)

Black stressed the importance of remembering the women of our nation who “serve as examples for all of us.” Those women, stated Black, “showed up, stepped up, and raised their hand to answer our nation’s call.”

In conjunction with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Florida House Representative Patt Maney along with Cindy Addison (Florida State Society DAR Regent) and Lija Eldrige (Honorary Chapter Regent of Choctawhatchee Bay DAR) presented a special Medal of Honor to Lt. Gen Gordon Purnell for his unceasing work on behalf of Okaloosa County.

Following the ceremony, attendees walked across the parking lot to the Women Veterans Monuments at Veterans’ Park to lay a wreath in remembrance of the country’s women veterans. The park was unveiled November 11, 2021, at 1300 Miracle Strip Parkway on Okaloosa Island. Learn more about the park and those heroes depicted there.

June Scroggin
Author: June Scroggin

Staff writer for Omni Broadcasting, June is curious about most everything and is adept at meticulously researching any topic. She enjoys the challenge of various writing styles—succinct “just-the-facts, ma’am” as well as energetic irreverence (while still factual).

Written by: June Scroggin

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