Many Americans know women who served in these conflicts. Others have read, seen or heard firsthand accounts such as Williams’. And these experiences have affected officeholders as well as the public. Members of the House of Representatives now serve with Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who lost her legs as a helicopter pilot in Iraq. They also know Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, another Iraq veteran. And many lawmakers have visited war zones. “I’ve seen firsthand service men and women working together in a range of dangerous operations to achieve our military objectives,” says Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. “Today’s announcement reflects the increasing role that female service members play in securing our country.” McCain agrees: “American women are already serving in harm’s way today all over the world and in every branch of our armed forces. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice.” The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., welcoms Defense’s decision and notes that during “a decade of critical military service in hostile environments, women have demonstrated a wide range of capabilities in combat operations.”
This is what happens to warnings about social experiments. Officially or not, the experiments take place. Sometimes, as in the case of single parenthood, they fail. Sometimes, as is in the case of gay marriage, they succeed. When they succeed, we lose our fear. And when they involve bravery, service and sacrifice, we’re moved. We aren’t talking about experimentation anymore. We’re talking about experience.