A nearly forgotten memorial honoring women veterans who served in World War I has also become the home of an annual celebration of present day women veterans and community leaders.
As the nation marks Veterans and Military Families Month in November, New York City is recognizing women who serve the city and the nation in a place dedicated to doing just that: the Overseas Service League Flagstaff and Women Veterans Memorial Grove in Central Park.
What You Need To Know
- An annual celebration of women service members past and present was held at the Overseas Service League Flagstaff and Women Veterans Memorial Grove in Central Park Wednesday
- Conceived and built 100 years ago, the living memorial of trees at the Women Veterans Memorial Grove in Central Park stretches along the Fifth Avenue wall from East 69th to East 71st Streets
- It recognizes unsung women heroes who served during World War I, including Red Cross nurses who died overseas
“Today, we are excited to honor seven incredible women whose stories are inspiring and a testament to the power of volunteerism,” said Captain Zeita Merchant, sector commander and captain of the port, U.S. Coast Guard Sector New York.
“I’m a woman, I’m a marine and I’m a Latina. For women to know what possibilities are out there for them, they need to see people that look like them,” said Mercedes Elias, former Marine and sits on the city’s Veterans Advisory Board.
As the head of finance brokerage firm, Amerivet Securities, she’s the only woman vet to lead a financial services firm on Wall Street.
“I think what makes this award special is that it’s around Veterans Day and around Veterans Day, we generally honor all veterans. But this one is specifically for Women Veterans,” she said.
Another 2023 Women of Service for America Honoree was Tania Kinsella, NYPD first deputy commissioner. She has held the post since July of this year.
“I stand here today as proof of the inspiration I’ve received from women throughout my life,” she said. “Women like all of you who have shown the power of service and dedication.”
Conceived and built 100 years ago, the living memorial of trees at the Women Veterans Memorial Grove in Central Park stretches along the Fifth Avenue wall from East 69th to East 71st streets. It recognizes unsung women heroes who served during World War I, including Red Cross nurses who died overseas.
For decades, millions of New Yorkers and tourists walked past it and likely had no idea. The memorial was rediscovered five years ago.
Since then, a ceremony honoring women service members past and present has been held here each year.
Other honorees included Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Anne Williams-Isom; First Deputy Commissioner of the city’s Emergency Management Department, Christina Farrell; Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families, a military family organization; Allison Bergman, CEO of Operation Cookie Drop, which delivers cookies to service members; and Ginger Kelly, a former Marine and current board member of the United Services Organization, which is a charity that serves active duty service members and their families.
“It’s not just about myself and the accolades and what I bring to the city but there’s other great women in our nation, in our state, in our city, in our country that’s making the world turn and making the world safer,” Kinsella said.
Organizers of Wednesday’s event include the American Red Cross in Greater New York and the city’s Department of Veterans’ Services.