Nurse Slanger an important vet to remember on Memorial Day

With Memorial Day 2018 just around the corner, we need to be reminded that women have been part of America’s battles, equally deserving our nation’s gratitude along with the men.
From the Revolutionary War to the present, women have played important roles in America’s war effort.
Women have gone beyond the old traditional roles as cooks, laundresses and nurses to serve as spies and fighting soldiers. Some were disguised as males when they were officially prohibited from combat duty.
Only recently, in December 2015, have women officially been allowed to actually serve in combat, after passing rigorous physical testing.
Traditionally, women have served in the U.S. military as nurses and, as a result of the much-needed service of these nurses during wartime, a number of these nurses have been killed, wounded or taken prisoner.
One of the many stories praising America’s nurses in wartime is the heartwarming account of Frances Slanger, a Jewish resident of Boston who felt it was her patriotic duty during World War II to become an Army nurse.
Slanger had been born in Poland and immigrated to the United States with her parents and sister in 1920 at age 7, escaping the persecution of Jews.
While her parents envisioned Slanger finding a nice Jewish boy with a good job and getting married, she had other ideas.
When the United States entered World War II, Slanger, who had recently finished nursing school, decided to join the Army’s Nurse Corps.
The U.S. Army’s usual procedure was to wait three weeks after an invasion before sending in the nurses to set up the field hospitals.
That procedure changed after the D-Day invasion because the numbers of wounded were so great.
Four days into the invasion, petite Lt. Frances Slanger found herself in the Normandy surf, clinging to the belt of a soldier in front of her so as not to slip under the water.
Once landed, Slanger and the other nurses immediately began to tend the wounded who were then sent back to the rear, away from the fighting.
While taking care of the wounded, Slanger grew to appreciate the hardships and sacrifices made by the foot soldiers.
She decided to write a letter to the soldiers’ newspaper, Stars and Stripes, to express her admiration and respect to the GIs for what they do, often under the harshest of conditions.
After sending the letter, Lt. Slanger joined other nurses in tending the wounded.
That evening, an enemy artillery shell exploded near the nurses, killing Lt. Frances Slanger.
Her letter lauding the GIs, expressing gratitude and respect for what they do under the greatest of hardships, appeared in the next issue of Stars and Stripes. The Stripes staff had not yet received word of her death.
Once it became known that Slanger had been killed, soldiers began writing in, demanding that she receive proper recognition for her letter of tribute to the soldiers.
Lt. Slanger was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously, and a newly commissioned hospital ship was named in her honor.
Lt. Frances Slanger was initially buried in a French military cemetery under a Jewish Star of David, surrounded by the graves of the fighting men for whom she had expressed much respect and admiration.
Years later, Slanger’s remains were brought home, moved to a Jewish cemetery in Boston, and a women’s chapter of the Jewish War Veterans bearing her name was formed in that city.
Slanger was one of more than 400 U.S, military women who lost their lives in World War II.
May God bless their memory.

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