As Memorial Day rings in the first days of summer, let’s take a look at some important women who have served in our fandoms to keep the Universe free. If someone you were looking for did not make the list, let me know in the comments or on twitter @Mr_Espinos .
11) Natasi Daala (Star Wars)
As the first female to obtain the rank of Admiral in the Imperial Navy and later to serve as the Chief of State for the Galactic Federation, Natasi Daala is a controversial figure. She achieved fame through winning simulated battles under an alias, after being discriminated against for her gender. She caught the eye of Grand Moff Tarkin and ascended through the ranks by his side. As the Chief of State, she began to lose control and made many mistakes for which she was judged harshly.
10) Kathryn Janeway (Star Trek)
As Captain of the USS Voyager, Kathryn Janeway was a strong leader and a voice of reason in the chaos of having her ship and crew flung to the far reaches of the Delta Quadrant. Her calm under pressure and ability to make choices that were difficult, put her on many fan’s list for favorite captain. Janeway goes on to achieve the rank of Vice Admiral and eventually heads the Delta Quadrant Exploratory Fleet.
9) Fa Mulan (Disney’s Mulan)
Mulan takes the place of her aged father when he is conscripted into the Chinese military to defend against the Huns. She joins the ranks and is trained, while pretending to be a male. She excels in training and eventually shows great bravery when she is engaged by the Huns. Her quick-thinking and bravery save many lives, including the Emperor. She is honored for her bravery and turns down an offer to be an advisor to the Emperor; instead she returns home to the peace she helped win.
8) Zoë Alleyne Washburne (Firefly)
Zoë served as a Corporal during the Unification War and continued to serve as First Mate after the war was over. She is a fierce warrior and always plans the next three steps ahead. To get the desired result, Zoë uses violence like a surgeon uses a scalpel. Never afraid of a fight, she is the voice of reason among a team of misfits. Zoë stands ready to face each new challenge with her Mare’s Leg by her side and a resolute determination in her heart.
7) Melinda May (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Known as The Cavalry, Agent May has a reputation for fierceness in combat and a cool head under pressure. In addition to being the pilot of the “Bus,” she is also an expert field agent with instincts that have saved many lives. She wins many fans with her stare, and many more when she engages in martial arts. She is an inspiration to the other women on her team and trusted by all the agents she works with.
6) Lady Jaye (G.I. Joe)
All teams need a covert operations specialist, and Lady Jaye is go-to for the Joes. Staff Sargent Alison R. Hart-Burnett is an all-American girl and graduate of Bryn Mawr. She qualified at Airborne and ranger schools. (Something women in the U.S. Army have yet to do.) She is a force of nature that has no problem transitioning from the ballroom to the battlefield. She is an expert in many weapons, including the crossbow.
5) Martha Jones (Doctor Who)
Martha has always been one of my favorite companions. She was made a Medical Officer for UNIT after she ended her travels with The Doctor. She is strong and independent when dealing with everybody. As a member of a paramilitary force, she refuses to wear a gun and expresses her goal of changing it from the inside. Martha Jones was eventually promoted to Director of a U.S. branch of UNIT and maintains a strong commitment to the value of life, while keeping all of time and space safe.
4) Carol Danvers (Marvel)
Captain Carol Danvers was an Air Force officer when she fell in love with an alien she worked with. She gained super-powers and chose to serve the people of the universe. Having served on many teams in the Marvel universe, including the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel has saved the world more times than can be counted. She serves as an inspiration for the new Ms. Marvel and has been a progressive part of feminism since the late 70s.
3) Nyota Uhura (Star Trek)
A Lieutenant in Star Fleet and the Chief Communications officer aboard the Enterprise, Uhura is a rock of calm in a sea of chaos. Never losing her cool while under attack and a diplomat for the ship as they encountered strange new species, we see Uhura as an example of grace under pressure. An added bonus is that Martin Luther King was a fan of the show as remembered by Nichelle Nichols, “Star Trek was one of the only shows that [King] and his wife Coretta would allow their little children to watch. And I thanked him and I told him I was leaving the show. All the smile came off his face. And he said, don’t you understand for the first time, we’re seen as we should be seen. You don’t have a black role. You have an equal role.”
2) Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Battlestar Galactica)
Starbuck is a haunted character that adds layers of complexity with each new wrinkle in the search for Earth. There are few pilots that can claim to have come back from the dead but that is just one of Starbuck’s many achievements. Driven by guilt and fear Kara Thrace is a self-destructive whirlwind that sweeps up those around her and drags them into trouble. This behavior is underpinned by a strong religious conviction and a dedication to duty that surpasses a concern for personal welfare. The travails that Starbuck faces are greater than anyone else on this list. She is the perfect representation of battle fatigue and the effects of loss while serving.
1) Ellen Ripley (Alien)
No doubt Ripley is the greatest female heroine on screen and one of the greatest females in all of science fiction. Warrant Officer Ripley displayed bravery and selflessness throughout all of her adventures. She was repeatedly willing to risk her safety for the welfare of her fellow crewmates. She was willing to sacrifice herself more than once to save humanity from the threat of the Xenomorphs. I look forward to the next time she steps onto the screen to save humanity from the Alien menace.
Princess Leia (Rebellion leader and Jedi Knight), Margaret “Peggy” Carter (Strategic Science Reserve), Aeryn Sun (Pilot, Peacekeeper), Brienne of Tarth (Rainbow Guard), Sarah Connor (Leader of the Resistance).
Memorial Day was brought about by the women left behind during the Civil War who needed a way to reconcile the rift among soldiers who fought on both sides. By the end of the Civil War, there were around half a million dead. Since the Civil War, we have adopted Memorial Day into our calendar as a time to remember veterans who have come before, and especially those who have fallen on the battle field. I served the Army in the early 2000s and lost friends I had served with. I do not like to be thanked for my service because it was my duty, but I do want people to remember those who have paid the ultimate price.