WASHINGTON (AP) -- A statue is being dedicated on Veterans Day to the women who served in the Vietnam War. Big deal?
It's tough to find statues of women in Washington, a city with enough statu to qualify as pigeon paradise. For instance, in the Capitol's Statuary Hall, only six of the 95 heroic figures are women.
That's the way it is around the country, too. When it comes to being immortalized in bronze or marble, women get short shrift.
"It's really outrageous," said Rep. Pat Schroeder, D-Colo. "It's always puzzled me, even in my own city of Denver. ... We had statues to buffaloes but didn't have one to women anywhere."
In Washington, even horses do better than women. The largest equestrian statue in the United States, that of Ulysses S. Grant in the saddle, is in the capital city. And one of the six statues of women in Washington's public parks portrays Joan of Arc on a horse.
The new sculpture near the Vietnam memorial is the first honoring women who served in the military. It is controversial, like the war itself. It depicts three fatigue-clad women, one seated on a pile of sandbags cradling a wounded soldier.
"The sculpture is a work of deception," said Ted Sampley, who publishes the U.S. Veteran Dispatch in Kinston, N.C. "It gives the false impression that American women were serving shoulder-to-shoulder with men in combat in Vietnam
Nurses and doctors served in the rear, he said.
"It's quite difficult to know what's forward and rear when nurses were kill in Vietnam by shrapnel," said Karen Johnson, who served 20 years as an Air For nurse. "You'd have to be forward to be hit by mortar fire."
In any case, she said, "what is realistic is that the men being air evacuat in helicopters were in their uniforms. Often it was a nurse or medic who were some point holding them. I don't think that's taking artistic license at all."
Nearby, the black granite panels of the Vietnam Memorial hold the names of 58,000 dead or missing, eight of them female. In all, 10,000 women served in Vietnam.
In sculpture, women tend to have names like Freedom or Serenity. They are allegories, not real people; or fantasies, like Mother Goose.
The lack of female statues belies the roles women have played in history, says Schroeder, who has made the subject something of a speech staple. She tel these stories:
--- Martha Washington spent all three winters with George and the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Afterward, she asked Congress to reimburse her.
"The painting of George at Valley Forge shows him shivering, but we never s Martha," Schroeder says. "To me, George Washington is the last guy who got it right. He insisted that she be paid."
--- Sarah Ludington rode through the entire state of Connecticut warning, "Th British are coming, the British are coming." But Paul Revere was able to get Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to write about his little midnight ride only throug Boston.
--- The Boston Tea Party isn't the entire story. "The first wasn't in Boston, it was in the Carolinas. A group of women boarded a British ship and threw the tea overboard."