February 25, 1999 Vietnam Women's Memorial Project Leaders To Discuss Women's Patriotic Service on March 9 at the Library
Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Diane Carlson Evans, RN, founder and chair of the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project, and project vice chair Col. A. Jane Carson, USA (retired), will discuss honoring women's patriotic service on March 9, at 10 a.m. at the Library of Congress, Mumford Room, sixth floor, Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E. The program is free and open to the public as part of the Library's 1999 Women's History Month celebration. This year's theme is "Women Putting Our Stamp on America."
The Vietnam Women's Memorial Project was founded in 1984 by Ms. Evans, a former Army nurse who served in Vietnam. While the names of the eight military women who died in Vietnam are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Ms. Evans wanted a more inclusive memorial to honor the 250,000 Vietnam women veterans. With the assistance of many of these veterans, and thousands of citizens, she was successful in her grassroots campaign to erect a memorial. In 1988, Congress authorized the Vietnam Women's Memorial to honor the "women of the armed forces of the United States who served in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam era." While lobbying for the memorial, Ms. Evans told federal officials that "I want the women who served to know that they are not forgotten, that there is a special place for them, too, on honored ground."
Dedicated in 1993 as part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Women's Memorial was designed by sculptor Glenna Goodacre, of Santa Fe, N.M., whose concept was selected from 317 entries in the memorial design competition. The bronze statue is 6 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs 1 ton. It depicts three women, one kneeling, while a second tends to a wounded soldier, and a third looks up at the sky. Planted around the statue's plaza are eight trees to commemorate each of the women who died in Vietnam. The $4 million needed for the execution of the project was raised by public subscription.
Ms. Evans, a former Captain in the Army Nurse Corps, graduated as a registered nurse from St. Barnabas Hospital School of Nursing in Minneapolis. During her six years in the military, she served in Vietnam (1968-1969) as a staff nurse in the surgical and burn wards at Vung Tau and later as head nurse in a surgical unit at Pleiku. While working with Vietnam war veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress, she read about the statue of three American male soldiers, designed by Frederick Hart, which was placed next to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1984, two years after the first monument was erected. The absence of a female veteran in the second monument led to her successful lobby effort for a third monument to honor women who served in Vietnam.
Col. Carson received her basic nursing education from Greenville General Hospital in 1962. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in Seattle and a master's degree from the University of Colorado in Denver. She entered the Army as a Second Lieutenant in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and remained in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps for 27 years, serving in a variety of clinical and administrative positions. Her overseas assignments include Vietnam, Hawaii and two tours in Korea. In Vietnam, she was assigned to the 312th (USAR) Evacuation Hospital and the 91st Evacuation Hospital, Chu Lai, from 1969 to 1970. Her work with the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project began as a volunteer. She was elected to the Board of Directors in March 1990, and vice chair in 1994.
The Vietnam Women's Memorial Project was incorporated in 1984, and is a nonprofit organization located in Washington. In addition to "promoting the healing of Vietnam women veterans through the establishment of the Vietnam Women's Memorial," the mission of the project is to "identify military and civilian women who served in Vietnam; educate the public about their role; and facilitate research on the physiological, psychological, and sociological issues correlated to their service." The project has the support of every major veterans group in the country, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and more than 40 other diverse organizations.
The Vietnam Women's Memorial is under the stewardship of the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior. A celebration was held on Nov. 11, 1998, to commemorate the memorial's fifth anniversary.