World War and Veterans

Commitment to Service

Edith Nourse Rogers, ca. 1917–1922/tiles/non-collection/E/ENR-as-nurse-Schlesinger.xml Image courtesy of the Papers of Edith Nourse Rogers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University
H.R. 6293, A bill to establish a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps for service with the Army of the United States/tiles/non-collection/W/Women Army Auxiliary Corps Bill.xml
Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration
About this record
H.R. 6293, A bill to establish a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps for service with the Army of the United States
Edith Nourse Rogers Radio Address, December 4, 1942/tiles/non-collection/E/ENR-radio-address-about-WAACs-p1-Schlesinger.xml
Image courtesy of the Papers of Edith Nourse Rogers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University Edith Nourse Rogers Radio Address, December 4, 1942
Edith Nourse Rogers Radio Address, December 4, 1942/tiles/non-collection/E/ENR-radio-address-about-WAACs-p2-Schlesinger.xml
Image courtesy of the Papers of Edith Nourse Rogers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University Edith Nourse Rogers Radio Address, December 4, 1942
Before serving in Congress, Representative Edith Nourse Rogers worked overseas as a nurse during World War I. She observed women who served on a contractual or voluntary basis and received no legal protection or medical care for their essential service. When she returned home, she joined the American Red Cross volunteer group, and she became a familiar face among the veterans at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. This photo shows Edith Nourse Rogers in her Red Cross uniform. Rogers brought this experience with her to Congress in 1925. She sponsored the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) legislation in 1942. When the bill, shown below, became law, it formalized the indispensable role women played in the military during wartime and compensated them for their service and in the event of injury or illness. In a December 4, 1942, radio address, Rogers stated, “As military necessity dictates, members of the WAACs will be sent wherever needed. . . . I think this is typical of the spirit of the corps. You know, I saw the WAACs rise from a daring dream to a vibrant reality. What they can do and will do makes me proud, not only to be an American—but a woman.”
Edith Nourse Rogers, February 4, 1943/tiles/non-collection/P/PA2011_08_0046.xml Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object

Although the creation of the WAAC was a signature legislative accomplishment for Rogers, like other early women in Congress, she strove to be perceived as a Member of Congress first and a woman second. In a speech made early in her House career, she said, “I am speaking, you know, as a new member of Congress. I am supposed to speak from a woman’s standpoint. That is rather a silly phrase, because the question on these big issues before us isn’t the point of view of the men and women themselves, it is the conflicting opinions of the American people—yours and mine. . . . I find the members of Congress are just like the people at home!” Rogers chaired the Veterans' Affairs Committee for two Congresses after World War II, and her legislative accomplishments focused on veterans. She spearheaded a provision in the 1930 Veterans’ Administration Act that created a national network of veterans’ hospitals and sponsored a package of measures in 1944 known as the GI Bill of Rights, which included tuition benefits for veterans.





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