[December 30, 2017] My intent here at theLeaderMaker.com is to not only discuss the core attributes of leadership but to also provide outstanding examples; those people we can look at to improve our skills and inspire us. Today, I will be recognizing Mary Edwards Walker, born 1832, American abolitionist, prohibitionist, prisoner of war, and surgeon.
Mary Edwards Walker is the only woman to be awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor for her bravery during the American Civil War. It is indeed rare for a woman to be highlighted for showing courage but I have several in the pages of my blog. Gender, however, does not hold courage in one or the other but in the character of the person.
At the start of the Civil War, Walker volunteered with the Union Army and served as a surgeon at a temporary hospital in Washington, D.C. even though women and sectarian physicians were considered unit to perform their duties. He dedication to the soldier was so great that she was captured by Confederate forces while crossing enemy lines to treat wounded civilians. She was arrested as a spy.
“The greatest sorrows from which women suffer to-day are those physicial, moral, and mental ones, that are caused by their unhygienic manner of dressing!” – Mary Edwards Walker, 1871
After the war, she became a writer and lecturer supporting the women’s suffrage movement until her death in 1919. She also supported issues such as health care, temperance, and dress reform for women. Some consider her ahead of her time when she argued, at the time, that there was no need for a Consitutional amendment to allow women to vote because it had already granted women the right to vote.
The acts and behavior of Mary Edwards Walker are something that all of us can learn whether we are a new or seasoned leader. Her personal bravery in the American Civil War or in her moral courage to support the rights of all humans are those things to which we should aspire.
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* Mary Edwards Walker was recommended for the Medal of Honor by Generals William Techumseh Sherman and George Henry Thomas. U.S. President Andrew Johnson signed a bill to award her the medal.