“In World War II, the soldiers weren’t fighting the war. The whole country was fighting the war,” recalled Marj Dukatz.
Dukatz serves as the Parliamentarian of the Malibu Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which honors military women. Dukatz and her peers gathered Saturday at the Malibu Riding and Tennis Club for the 16th Annual Women in Military Luncheon, hosted by the Malibu DAR.
The luncheon honored all things military, shed light on the drawbacks plaguing veterans returning home and showcased young writers whose essays on war history became finalists in the Malibu DAR’s essay competition.
Some DAR members possess direct experience with war. During World War II, Dukatz was prohibited from fighting, but she contributed to the Allies’ effort in a wide range of ways that may not have received much attention, but were important. While American men were overseas fighting, for example, Dukatz and many American women were in the fields farming, to help produce crops.
Times have changed. Women today can fight in the military, but that change has brought new dilemmas, Dukatz said. Many of today’s female soldiers struggle to balance running a family while at war.
“There are many women who have small children, and they still are in the military,” she said, before the luncheon. “But they manage to make it work.”
Anne Murphy of West L.A.’s Salvation Army Haven was awarded for supporting veterans struggling to get back on their feet at home. Through different programs, the Haven provides myriad services for returning soldiers. Murphy directs the program that provides employment and housing services.
Many returning veterans lack the skills to land a job, she said, and are unable to receive the benefits in a reasonable amount of time.
“It’s taken upwards of a year, and that’s just not right,” she said after the event.
She called attention to the fact that many Americans are homeless, not just veterans.
“We are an affluent country. And it’s a travesty that we have so many people living on the street. In particular, our veterans who got back from a war that many of us didn’t want,” she said.
She felt government should ensure that the repercussions of war are financed, not just the cost executing it.
Despite the pressing issues brought up, the tone of the event remained mostly lighthearted, especially when the essay competitions finalists appeared before the crowd.
Carl “Izzy” Putterman, an eighthgrader at Malibu High School, won the high school competition for uncovering the unsung legacy of James Armistead. Armistead, a black slave, worked as a double agent during the Revolutionary War. He posed as a spy for Great Britain, but actually conducted espionage for the rebelling Americans.
Lana King, a fifth-grader at Point Dume Marine Science School, won first place in the elementary school category for revealing in her essay how dogs played a pivotal role in World War I by taking on tasks such as hunting rats that were in the trenches.
The role of the dogs was new to even the DAR judges, who were forced to vote on whether the dogs could be called patriots.
Point Dume Elementary fifth-grader Hudson Tarlow nabbed second for exploring in his paper the role of music in wars. Before amplified sound, soldiers relied on drum ensembles to communicate movements in the field.
And in third place came Tallulah Dempsey, who was not in attendance, but who wrote about women who helped drive the American Revolution by performing tasks such as spying on the British and boycotting British goods.