Over 65 years after the end of World War Two, the 300 remaining Women Airforce Service Pilots, WASP for short, were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. It's the nation's highest civilian award given by the Congress.
The women covered 60 million miles of operation flights in 78 different types of military aircraft, from the fastest fighters to the heaviest bombers. While only recognized as members of the military in the 1970s, the WASPs performed important duties like ferrying planes from one base to another, testing out new planes and towing targets to give male gunners on the ground practice shooting at moving targets. Thirty-eight women were killed while performing these duties.
Many of the women never expected any real recognition from the government, but now called this honor a "closing a circle of history."
"We were serving as WASPs, we were never in it for the glory. We were never, ever thinking that it would turn out to be as wonderful as it is. To receive such an honor is just unimaginable. So, for me, it's been one of the highlights of my life." Shirley Kruse, Women Airforce Service Pilots
"The medal is fine, but this is so much more important than getting a medal: educating America." Deanie Parrish, Women Airforce Service Pilots
1. What roles did women play during World War Two?
2. Why has it been hard for the U.S. Military to integrate women?
1. Does it surprise you that women were flying airplanes in training back in 1944? Why or why not?
2. Why do you think it took so long for these WASPs to be recognized?
3. Women still do not fight on the frontlines in the United States military, do you agree with this? Why or why not?
4. What do you see in the photos of these women?
5. What rules does the military have about who can serve and who cannot?