Through the years, women's roles in wartime have evolved - not that women ever have been inclined to just stand by.
During the American Revolution, Nancy Morgan Hart was famously depicted with a musket, defending her home and children from British soldiers in Georgia.
In World War II, members of the Women Army Corps worked in a support capacity, while in Iraq and Afghanistan women have served closer to the front.
Those roles evolved further Thursday when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed an order ending the Pentagon's ban on women serving in combat.
Here's a collection of images showing some of the ways women have served their country in the U.S. military: