11. Wonder Woman
Her fresh, All-American face premiered on comic book stands during World War II, making her the greatest enemy of the Axis powers. Daughters of original readers would go on to be inspired by Lynda Carter’s televisual portrayal of the superheroine in the 1970s. The Wonder Woman arsenal includes a dual-function tiara with bracelets to match and the awesome Lasso of Truth. Before there was Lara Croft or a chick named Buffy, Wonder Woman proved that strength could be sexy and gave Captain America a run for his patriotism with her flag-bearing style.
Without her, the Lewis and Clark expedition would’ve been lost… literally. The Lemhi Shoshone woman was kidnapped by another tribe as a child and purchased by a French Canadian trapper to be his wife at the age of 13. Pregnant when Lewis and Clark hired her husband, Sacagawea would also be hired as both a translator and a visible sign of peace to all those whom the party would encounter along their trek. Providing valuable guidance in certain instances, she would lead the explorers along trails that would later become well-worn paths and railways through the west. She also rescued Lewis and Clark’s records from destruction. As her legend grew, Sacagawea was adopted as a symbol of independence by the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
9. Kate Smith
God Bless America became the rallying cry of World War II thanks to the booming vocals of Kate Smith. The native Virginian, whose curvaceous body suited her powerful contralto voice, made a lasting impression on American culture when she premiered Irving Berlin’s famous song in the 1943 film This Is the Army. She would go on to have a successful career in radio and television. God Bless America, however, would remain her trademark; her performance remains the good luck charm of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team.
8. Clara Barton
The nurse who founded the Red Cross in America, Clara Barton also opened America’s first free public school in 1854. The “Angel of the Battlefield” would wind up becoming one of, if not the first woman to work in government service. Eventually, she would spend her own money earned in the Patent Office on medical supplies which she took to the front lines of many Civil War battles. A tireless advocate for those in need, Barton devoted her life to humanitarian service, making a lasting impact on American culture.
7. Julia Ward Howe
The poet who penned anonymous works at a time when women were not generally published authors, Julia Ward Howe is best known for writing the Civil War anthem Battle Hymn of the Republic. Inspired after meeting President Abraham Lincoln in 1861, the song became an instant hit after being published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862. An ardent women’s rights activist, Julia Ward Howe would go on to found the weekly Women’s Journal and campaign for the creation of Mother’s Day.
6. Rosie the Riveter
The face that defined the female contribution to America’s homefront, Rosie the Riveter inspired a generation of women to band together in support of their nation. By 1944, 20 million American women had entered the workforce, a striking 57% increase from 1940. The need for Rosies created an integrated workforce, paving the way for the civil rights movement of the 1950s.
5. Moina Michael
Having begun her teaching career at the age of 15, the native Georgian put herself through teaching college, eventually making her way to Columbia University in the late 1800s. A college professor in Georgia at the time of World War I, she took a leave of absence to volunteer at a YWCA training center for overseas workers. Upon her return to the university after the war, Moina Michael taught classes filled with men returning from the front. It was then that she came up with the idea of selling artificial poppies, a memorial symbol of remembrance, to fund the needs of disabled veterans. She raised so much money that the American Legion took on the poppy as its symbol. Today, they continue to sell poppies in order to raise funds for disabled veterans in need.
4. Abigail Adams
John and Abigail Adams had a marriage that was ahead of its time. The president often sought political advice from his wife, even throughout the Revolution. Adams propelled her intellectual curiosity into the realm of women’s rights, becoming a staunch proponent for increased educational opportunities and property rights for married women. She pursued advanced medical practices, including smallpox vaccinations and a mastectomy for her eldest daughter. Known as “Mrs. President,” Abigail Adams stood alongside, never behind, her husband.
3. The Statue of Liberty
The first face of freedom to greet countless immigrants in search of freedom, Lady Liberty stands as a symbol, not just to those seeking refuge in America, but to Americans who have become far too jaded for their own good. She reminds us to stand in awe of all we are able to accomplish when we embrace the tenets upon which this nation was founded, the principles that allowed America to become the goldene medina (golden land) for which our ancestors longed.
2. Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman didn’t simply escape slavery, she confronted it. Known as “Moses” to the slaves she led out of bondage, Tubman not only conducted routes along the Underground Railroad, she also worked with the Union Army in the Civil War as a cook, nurse, armed scout, and spy. Guiding the Combahee River Raid in South Carolina, Tubman became the first woman to lead an American armed military expedition. The raid freed 750 slaves. After the war Tubman became active in the women’s suffrage movement and remained so until her death. Evidencing tenacious courage in the face of overwhelming odds, Tubman is the embodiment of the ideals America’s founders and heroes have worked so hard to capture, inspire and emulate.
1. The Female Soldiers of the U.S. Armed Forces
During the Civil War, they masqueraded as men to get into the combat zone. Today, roughly 200,000 women are in the active duty military. “Despite the official ban on combat, women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan often found themselves engaged in firefights. Women made up 67 of the nearly 3,500 Americans lost in hostile fire in Iraq and 33 of the 1,700-plus killed in combat in Afghanistan; more than 600 others in Iraq and 300 in Afghanistan were wounded.” These are America’s unsung Super Women.