The event will include an anniversary cake cutting, slideshow of female Marines in action, a pageant of past uniforms, singing of the national anthem and special guests
For 74 years, women have been serving alongside men in the Marine Corps — and everything from the uniforms to the jobs they work have changed during that time.
Women Marine Association Tarheel Chapter, NC1 is hosting an anniversary event noon-2 p.m. March 3 at the Camp Lejeune Paradise Point Officer’s Club to celebrate not only the anniversary of women entering the Marine Corps, but also the achievements they have reached and continue to reach.
Chapter NC1 President Shirley John said the group has been hosting the event for a decade now and celebrating after the actual anniversary of the women Marines, which is Feb. 13, is purposeful.
“Nothing was being done with Women’s History Month,” she said. “This brings it all together. Not only women Marines, but women in service.”
The event will include an anniversary cake cutting, slideshow of female Marines in action, a pageant of past uniforms provided by Lisa Potts from the Marine Corps Museum, singing of the national anthem and special guests.
Past national Women Marine Association President Ronda Amtower will introduce the guest of honor, Maj. General Loretta Reynolds.
John said holding the event on base is important because it allows former Marines like herself to interact with women currentlu on active duty, she said.
“We want them to know that we are back there backing them all the way, encouraging them along,” John said. “We want to encourage them to push through the military stigma that it is just for me. If we could do it, they can do it. That really makes a difference.”
The public, as well as key players from both the base and community, are invited, John said.
The main attraction of the event will be a display of photographs and memorabilia from every era of women Marines, the private collection of Chapter NC1’s Vice President Linda Lacy.
Lacy’s collection includes more than 400 photographs alone of a pictorial history of women Marines, she said.
Lacy has dedicated her life since the 1970s to preserving the history of female Marines through not only growing her collection, but also through the writing of books, the fourth published in 2016.
Motivated by the World War II era female Marines she spoke to for her books, Lacy began scouring online sale sites for anything pertaining to women Marines.
She said people have even donated items to her collection that were part of their times as women Marines.
Now her collection includes full uniforms from several different eras, purses, scarves, covers, shoes, Barbie dolls dressed in Marine Corps uniforms, sheet music from the band, coats and more, taking over an entire room, she said.
Lacy said her favorite part of her collection is a cobblestone she received at the bicentennial celebration of the Marine Corps from the Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, where the Marine Corps began.
Sharing her collection at events like the upcoming anniversary celebration is a way of staying true to her Marine roots and is a physical explanation of the evolution of women in the Marine Corps.
“Marines enjoy sharing their history and their tradition. Once a Marine, always a marine,” Lacy said. “I think you have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going, rather than just say, ‘We owe it to the ones before us.’ Do (active duty female Marines) really know what the ones before them did? I didn’t know until I started digging in there.”
Lacy continues to grow her collection every year.
This year her collection grew by way of a delivery of a cover from a notable female Marine, she said.
“This year I have a cover from Sgt. Maj. Angie Maness. She was the first female sergeant major to be at 8th and I (Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.). She was the first to be at Parris Island (as a female sergeant major). She sent me her cover. I will have that on display,” Lacy said. “To me, this year, that is very, very important in terms of all the achievements that she has accomplished.”
Social hour is noon-1 p.m. with the ceremony of speakers, presentation of colors and national anthem beginning at 1 p.m.
Non-military public wishing to attend must stop at the visitor’s center at the entrance of Main Gate to receive a visitor’s pass. Current registration and insurance will be needed to get a pass.
For more information on the anniversary event, contact John at 910-346-8644 or email NC1@womenmarines.org.