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Woman makes history as the Marine Corps’ first female infantry officer

Woman makes history as the Marine Corps' first female infantry officerU.S. Marine Corps(QUANTICO, Va.) -- For the first time in its nearly 250-year history, the U.S. Marine Corps has a female infantry officer.

The woman, who wishes to keep her identity private, graduated from the Marines' Infantry Officer Course in Quantico, Virginia, on Monday.

Now a lieutenant, she is the first woman to finish the challenging course and the fourth to attempt it since the Marines opened all military occupational specialties, known as MOS, to women in April 2016.

“I am proud of this officer and those in her class who have earned the infantry officer MOS,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said in a press release Monday.

The female infantry officer will now head to the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, for her first assignment.

Today, the first female Marine graduated from Infantry Officer Course.

Ooh-rah to the future infantry leaders.

— U.S. Marines (@USMC) September 25, 2017

"Infantry Officer Course is the MOS-producing school for Marine Corps infantry officers and the prerequisite course for ground intelligence officers," the release said. "The grueling 13-week course trains and educates newly selected infantry and ground intelligence officers in leadership, infantry skills, and character required to serve as infantry platoon commanders in the operating forces."

Of the 131 Marines who began the course in July, only 88 graduated.

Proud of this officer & her fellow leaders. Now they focus on what's important: preparing to lead Marines in combat

— Robert B. Neller (@GenRobertNeller) September 25, 2017

In 2015, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the decision to open all military combat roles to women, ending a ban on women's serving on the front lines. At the time, the Marine Corps formally advised that women should continue to be prevented from working in combat units, despite recommendations from the Army, Navy, Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command that they be permitted to serve.

"We are a joint force, and I have decided to make a decision which applies to the entire force," explained Carter in 2015.

Earlier that year, two female soldiers became the first women to graduate from Army Ranger training camp but were not immediately permitted to serve in a Ranger regiment as the decision on combat roles had yet to be made.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Veterans take a knee in support of national anthem protests

Veterans take a knee in support of national anthem protests@brennanmgilmore/Twitter(NEW YORK) -- Since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in the 2016 pre-season, several veterans who fought for the U.S. military have been expressing their support for Kaepernick's protest.

President Donald Trump may have helped turn Kaepernick's silent demonstration into a bonafide movement when he suggested that NFL owners fire players who protest the national anthem during a Friday rally in Huntsville, Alabama.

"Wouldn’t you love to see one of the NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now?'" Trump said.

On Twitter, Trump defended his comments, saying that "Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag."

Trump retweeted a photo of Pat Tillman, the former NFL player turned Army Ranger who died in Afghanistan in 2004 after enlisting in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Trump's comments spurred a backlash that included protest against the "Star Spangled Banner" across several NFL teams on Sunday. Several veterans who fought in the U.S. armed forces echoed the players' sentiments.

A photo of 97-year-old World War II veteran John Middlemas taking a knee went viral, after the man's grandson Brendan Gilmore posted it to Twitter.

The tweet -- which included a photo of the farmer from Willard, Missouri, kneeling on the ground accompanied by what Gilmore said was his grandfather's phrase "those kids have every right to protest" -- was retweeted nearly 130,000 times in just a day.

My grandpa is a 97 year-old WWII vet & Missouri farmer who wanted to join w/ those who #TakeaKnee: "those kids have every right to protest."

— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) September 24, 2017

Gilmore wrote that his grandfather "has been an ally to the civil rights movement for many years."

The hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick began trending after people took notice that the former quarterback, who currently isn't signed to a NFL team, was not standing for the national anthem. After Sunday's gameday protests, veterans took to Twitter again using the hashtag along with a new one, #TakeAKnee.

I’m a vet and I’ll #TakeaKnee #VeteransForKaepernick

— BasicCaucus🎃🍵🌹 (@comradejedi) September 24, 2017

I took an oath to defend the Constitution, not the flag. @realDonaldTrump, point your tiny fingers elsewhere. #VeteransForKaepernick

— Jason (@ArktinenJenkki) September 25, 2017

I didn’t serve to defend America’s systems of white supremacy and police brutality. Solidarity with #TakeTheKnee and #VeteransForKaepernick

— tim 🌹 (@TimTakesTime) September 24, 2017

Some NFL players decided to stand for the anthem on Sunday. Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva -- a former Army Ranger -- took to the field and placed his hand on his heart during the "Star Spangled Banner," despite his team's decision to skip the national anthem altogether.

However, in the past, Villanueva has expressed solidarity with Kaepernick, saying in a 2016 interview, "I will be the first one to hold hands with Colin Kaepernick and do something about the way minorities are being treated in the United States, the injustice that is happening with police brutality, the justice system, inequalities in pay," according to ESPN.

Even as the protests he inspired become more widepsread, Kaepernick remains unsigned in the NFL. He opted out of his contract with the 49ers after last season.

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