President's Lecture Series


Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer: "Serving in Silence"

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Lecture Series

President's Lecture Series


Margarethe (Grethe) Cammermeyer served as a colonel in the Washington National Guard and became a gay rights activist.

Cammermeyer was born in Oslo, Norway, in 1942, under Nazi occupation, immigrating with her family in 1951 to the USA. At 19, she joined the Army Student Nurse Program and after graduating from college (BS from University of Maryland) she served seven years on active duty. While stationed in Europe she married a fellow military officer.

In 1968 she was forced to leave the military when she was pregnant with her first child. In 1972, she returned to the military in the Army Reserves when women could serve with dependents. She divorced in 1980. Concurrently, Grethe earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington. Dr. Cammermeyer spent 25 years in the VA Medical Health Care system as a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Practitioner and Researcher in Neuroscience Nursing.

In 1994 her autobiography with Chris Fisher, Serving in Silence, was published. In 1995, a made-for-television movie, Serving in Silence, aired. The movie, produced by Barbra Streisand, and Glenn Close who portrays Colonel Cammermeyer, describes her challenge of the military’s anti-gay policy.

In 2012, after same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington state, Cammermeyer and her wife Diane Divelbess became the first same-sex couple to get a license in Island County.

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A 1/2" VHS copy of this lecture is available in the Special Collections & University Archives Department of Old Dominion University Perry Library. Call #: LD4331.A57 1996c

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