MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
The Molly Marine statue erected in New Orleans in 1943 symbolizes different qualities to different people. Poise, professionalism, possibility, courage, commitment, faithfulness, sacrifice, honor and integrity were all terms invoked by speakers at the dedication of the replica of Molly now in place at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
But the statue has long had a personal meaning to Maj. Gen. Angela Salinas, director of the Manpower Management Division of Manpower and Reserve Affairs. She told the crowd gathered in the museum’s atrium July 5, 2013, of the 12-inch Molly Marine statue that was given to her on her graduation from recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. in 1974. The sculpture was awarded to the female recruit who best exemplified the meaning of being a Marine.
Thirty-nine years later, Salinas is the highest-ranked female in the Marine Corps, and she said Molly has had a place in every office she’s occupied. “She stands as a constant reminder of my roots and the legacy that’s been entrusted to me,” she said, adding that the statuette gave her the confidence to reach beyond what she would have imagined herself doing.
“Molly connects our past with our present and gives us hope for the future,” Salinas said.
The original statue, depicting a young woman in uniform, head held high, holding a book and a pair of binoculars, was created to help recruit women during World War II. It was the country’s first monument of a female in service uniform. Other replicas stand at Parris Island and in front of the Gray Research Center aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.
Betty Moseley-Brown, president of the Women Marines Association, which was a major donor to the statue project, said Molly represents the courage and commitment that every female Marine exhibits when she leaves home to volunteer her service.
“We stand taller, we walk with a quicker step, we rest easier because of our service and the service of men and women today who are standing the watch,” said Moseley-Brown, who is a Marine Corps veteran.
“The revolutionary change in the role of women in our Marine Corps in the last 70 years is an important part of our history,” said retired Lt. Gen. Robert Blackman, president and CEO of Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, which supports the museum.
When he joined the Corps in 1970, there still wasn’t a female pilot in the entire service, and women only served at bases and stations, he said, noting that the military has now lifted a ban on women serving in combat.
Currently, about 13,000 of the Corps’ 203,000 Marines are women.
Dedicating the new statue, which stands among representations of other Marine Corps legends in the Semper Fidelis Memorial Park beside the museum, Cmdr. Laura Bender, regimental chaplain of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, said, “We dedicate ourselves anew to all for which [Molly] stands.”
The statue was sponsored by the Women Marines Association, the Young Marines, the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, and Capt. John Cusack and his daughter Sgt. Kristen Cusack.
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