MANHATTAN – Ahead of Veterans Day, a special ceremony was held in Central Park Tuesday at what was once a long-forgotten memorial to women who served overseas during the First and Second World Wars.
The gathering— which had a long list of dignitaries in attendance— paid homage to women who serve our country and our community in the present, including the first woman to be New York State’s chief executive, Governor Kathy Hochul.
“I say on behalf of 20 million New Yorkers, we are grateful,” Governor Hochul told the audience, turning the attention back to crucial role women in service play, after being presented with a ‘Women in Service’ award herself.
“We are grateful, we want to honor you and not just call you heroes, but treat you like you deserve to be treated with respect, free from assault, free from harassment, so you can simply do your jobs.”
The Third Annual Women’s Veterans Day Tribute Ceremony was held Tuesday at the Overseas Service League flagstaff and grove, first planted in 1926, and located inside Central Park near East 69th Street and Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side.
Other Women in Service award winners today included retired US Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton, NYPD Chief of Interagency Operations Theresa Tobin, FDNY Battalion Chief Michelle Fitzsimmons, Coast Guard Commander Zeita Merchant, Executive director of La Colmena, Yesenia Mata and disaster mental health volunteer Dottie Brier.
What an honor to present the women in service award to Yesenia Mata @HolaLaYesenia for @SeawrightForNY Women’s Veterans Day tribute. I had the honor of working with Yesenia on the Census and she is a rock star! https://t.co/kXwMktE26i— Julie Menin (@JulieMenin) November 9, 2021
The long-dormant Overseas Service League memorial was rediscovered by a historian in 2019, and consists of a flag pole with a special inscription and more than two dozen trees— each planted in honor of a woman who made the ultimate sacrifice for their service overseas with the Red Cross.
There are currently more than 1.3 million active duty members of the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force— just over seventeen percent of them are women, according to a Department of Defense demographics report.
Additionally, research by the Veterans Affairs Department found that women veterans are more than twice as likely to become homeless as women who did not serve in the military.
“We have to do so much more for our recently returning veterans,” Governor Hochul told the crowd, “to make sure that they don’t fall between the cracks and up on our streets, that they are provided a home, a job and education.