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Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers

The battlefield for Rogers wasn't Europe or the Pacific, but in Congress, where for 35 years she fought for veterans. In 1950, The American Legion honored her with the Distinguished Service Medal.

In his tribute to Rogers, the Rev. Edward J. Carney told Legionnaires, "She was one of the leaders in the fight for sufficient airplanes to make our Air Corps the finest in the world. Her advocacy of a large Navy and her voting record for large appropriations for naval defense are well known."

And on her support for the military, he added, "(Rogers) was the first representative in Congress to take the floor and urge that war be declared against Hitler and his Nazi-controlled Germany. Her warnings against Japanese aggression date far back before Pearl Harbor."

A member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Rogers framed the need for the United States to maintain a strong military and to train its troops for future wars. "It was because America was unprepared that Hitler began World War II, and because America was weak that Stalin started the communist drive on South Korea," she said.

In 1925, when her husband, John, died during his seventh term in the U.S. House, Republican Edith Rogers took only a week to decide she wanted to succeed him in his Massachusetts 5th District seat. She successfully fought off challengers, and continued to do so until her death in 1960 at 79, amid yet another re-election campaign.

During her 35 years in the House - the longest congressional service of any woman - Rogers successfully fought for the GI Bill of Rights and the creation of the Women's Army Corps. She was also behind the extension of GI Bill provisions to Korean War veterans.

Her service to her country dates back to World War I, when Rogers inspected field hospitals. "No one could see the wounded and dying as I saw them and not be moved to do all in his or her power to help," she said. She also volunteered with the YMCA, the Red Cross and other social-service agencies while her husband launched his congressional career.

In 1958, at 77, Rogers was considered a viable contender for the seat of Sen. John F. Kennedy, but she declined to campaign. Two years later, she died of pneumonia in Boston, just a few days before another primary election for her House seat. Rogers' legacy is remembered still in Bedford, Mass., where a VA hospital bears her name.

For more on Rogers, click here. (http://womenincongress.house.gov/member-profiles/profile.html)

 

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