Women of character, courage, commitment

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A woman of character, courage, commitment

Flip open any history book and look at the names. What do you see? That's right -- Most of them are men. Oh, a few women pop up here and there. But mostly it has been a man's world.

March, though, is a time to focus on the other half of the world's population. It's Women's History Month. As President Barack Obama noted, it's the month when we "recognize the victories, struggles and stories of the women who have made our country what it is."

Here is the story of one such woman, Tammy Duckworth. She along with 11 others will be honored in Washington by the National Women's History Project. This year's theme is "Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment."

Tammy Duckworth's family has served in uniform since the Revolutionary War. So it seemed natural when she joined the Army Reserve. She chose to fly helicopters because that was one of the few combat jobs open to women.

On a mission over Iraq in 2004, her helicopter was hit by enemy fire. Ms. Duckworth was badly wounded. She lost both legs and the full use of her right arm. A long, painful recovery followed.

When Ms. Duckworth realized how close to death she had come, she knew she "just had to do more with my life."

She ran for Congress in 2006 and narrowly lost. She then became head of the Illinois agency that helps military veterans get jobs, housing and other services.

Ms. Duckworth moved to Washington a few years later, taking a top post in the Department of Veterans Affairs. One focus she had was the special challenges that female veterans face. (Women make up 8 percent of U.S. veterans.)

In 2012, she ran for Congress again. This time she won. She is the first disabled woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ms. Duckworth gets around on "bionic" legs. Not only can she walk, but also she surfs and sky-dives, and she has completed several marathons.


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