BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

What You Can Find in a Dusty Corner

Posted by 365SoulNotes on March 23, 2010

Bernice "Bee" Haydu was one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Here she is proudly showing off her recently awarded Congressional Medal.

Women’s History Month is full of celebrations for the role women have played in our past AND the role they will continue to play in our future.
One of the events I attended this month was the Pentagon’s Women’s History Month Observance.

Being at the Pentagon and having access to all sorts of military folks who know how to add just the right amount of pomp & circumstance to an event…it was something I will never forget.

First we heard from a few big wigs, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and after we were lucky enough to hear from some amazing women who have not only made history…but are still in the process of writing their stories.

One of these women is Lieutenant Colonel Nicole M. E. Malachowski, the first female pilot on the Air Force’s elite Thunderbird flying team.  Her message was not one of  “look at me and what I’ve accomplished” (which it easily could have been given her story.)  Instead, she spent time talking about the other guests of honor: the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), who were recently awarded Congressional Medals for their service to the nation during World War II.

Nicole spoke about growing up and realizing at age five she wanted to be a fighter pilot.  It wasn’t until she was almost 12 that she realized there were actually laws preventing her from following her dream.  Disappointed, she temporarily gave up the idea that she would ever fly high and fast like she had dreamed of as a little girl.  That was until she vacationed with her family in Washington, DC and visited the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.

Lieutenant Colonel Nicole M. E. Malachowski, USAF, is the first female Thunderbird pilot in the Air Forces elite flying team.

Lieutenant Colonel Nicole M. E. Malachowski, USAF, is the first female Thunderbird pilot in the Air Forces elite flying team.

There, in a dark and dusty corner, was a display dedicated to the WASP history.  Amazing feats of women pilots way back before it was something “acceptable” or “in the norm.”  Seeing this revived Nicole’s dream.  And it’s a good thing because as America’s first female Thunderbird pilot, SHE will someday be the one that inspires little girls to follow their dreams and take to the sky.

Because of her gratitude to these women and the path they forged back in the 1940’s, Nicole participated in writing the legislation that led to the WASPs finally getting the recognition they deserve for their service.  It was her way of giving back to these women who forged the path that she later followed.

So whenever you think your dream is not reachable or there are just too many obstacles in your way, think back to Nicole and how she stumbled across the WASP display in that dusty corner of the Air & Space Museum.  And how even though laws at the time said she couldn’t fly jets…she found allies in women from another generation who silently told her…YES YOU CAN!

Don’t listen to or surround yourself with the people who tell you your dreams aren’t possible or that you should pick another dream.  Find the ones that say, “Yeah, I can see you doing that!” and fill your corner with those!

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