Military museum honors women in uniform
More than 200,000 women serve in the United States military, representing 16 percent of the U.S. military population and extending a history of involvement in military affairs stretching back to the Revolutionary War. The local Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas highlights women in uniform with a special exhibit curated by the museum’s founder, Emmett Casciato, and funded with a grant from the Pisgah Forest Rotary.
“Since I founded the museum, many women who serve, and who have served, have toured and volunteered,” says Casciato. “They’ve made an impact in so many ways.”
The exhibit, on view this month, showcases uniforms, medals, photos, magazine articles, and other memorabilia of military life at home and abroad, starting with World War II. The items have been drawn from the museum’s own collection, as well as from donors who’ve lent items specifically for the show.
The venue is also hosting three lectures on the key roles women have played in American military history, plus a showing of the documentary The Lioness, which chronicles a group of women who were deployed to Iraq in noncombat roles — but ended up fighting some of the deadliest battles of the war, alongside Marines.
The facility opened two years ago as the Western North Carolina Military History Museum and was the result of discussions between Casciato and two friends, one an Air Force veteran and the other a photographer who’d been embedded with the U.S. Army in Iraq. All of them had extensive private collections of military memorabilia. Recently rebranded as The Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas, it now houses more than 1,200 artifacts drawn from those collections, distributed over 4,000 square feet of space on East Main Street.
Casciato’s daughter graduated from West Point and has served in Afghanistan. “For years,” he says, “I wanted to start a military-history museum, and this is a way of giving back to those who served. The items that touch people the most are the personal stories of veterans.”
Many of those stories, as lived by women, will be told in November’s special exhibit. “Getting to know active-duty military personnel and veterans is an honor,” Casciato says. “[That’s] why I wanted to dedicate an entire exhibit to these brave, patriotic women.”
“A Tribute to Women in the Military” runs Saturday, Nov. 1 through Saturday, Nov. 30 at The Veterans History Museum (21 East Main St., Brevard). Admission is free; donations are welcome. Lectures will be scheduled Thursdays on Nov. 7, 14, and 21. For more information, visit theveteransmuseum.org or call 828-884-2141.