Ernst Speaks On Her Legislation Signed Into Law Restoring Inurnment Rights of WASP at Arlington National Cemetery

“As Memorial Day approaches, I am grateful that we can restore a basic honor to [WASP] and their families through this law.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today took to the Senate floor to speak about her legislation to restore the inurnment rights of Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) at Arlington National Cemetery, which was signed into law by President Obama last Friday.

Click here or on the image below to watch Senator Ernst’s remarks

TRANSCRIPT:

Mr. President,

I am pleased to report that last week, bipartisan legislation to restore the rights of the Women Airforce Service Pilots—or WASP— to have their ashes inurned at Arlington National Cemetery was signed into law.

I was proud to have led the Senate’s effort with Senator Mikulski to honor this group of revolutionary women who courageously served our country. I thank Congresswomen Martha McSally and Susan Davis for their leadership spearheading this bill in the House.

On the heels of Pearl Harbor, these trailblazing women bucked the status quo and made tremendous sacrifices for this nation. They joined ground-breaking flight training programs for women, flying non-combat service missions for the Army Airforce to free their male counterparts for combat duty overseas.

The WASP willingly put their lives on the line for this country during a time of war. This work wasn’t easy and certainly contained peril. In fact, 38 WASP died in service to our great country during WWII. Their sacrifice and love for this nation deserves to be celebrated, and always remembered.

Iowa was, at one time or another, home to at least 25 courageous WASP.‎ While they  were eventually granted veteran status in 1977, it was not until 2002 that the Army allowed these women to have their ashes placed in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. In 2015, that honor was inexplicably and wrongly revoked by the Army.

With less than a hundred WASP still living, time was short to do what was right and honor these women for their selfless sacrifice and service to our nation. 

They were role models for women in the military like me and proved their strength and fortitude in the missions they carried out.

I want to take this time to honor these extraordinary women, and thank them for their remarkable military service.

As Memorial Day approaches, I am grateful that we can restore a basic honor to them and their families through this law.

Thank you Mr. President. I yield the floor.

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