Female VMI cadets from Hampton Roads speak out about death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Posted at 11:53 AM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-21 18:29:32-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Flags are flying at half staff at the Federal Courthouse in Norfolk and all across the nation, as American's honor Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"There are women that are ready and willing and able to undergo the tough training at VMI, and they want an opportunity and the state cannot deny them," said Ginsburg three years ago speaking to cadets at Virginia Military Institute.

Of the 1,700 cadets enrolled, only 13 percent are women.

"All doors must be open for sons and daughters, and they will choose to enter the doors if they have will and talent to do so," she said when visiting the school in 2017.

Women were able to enter the "rat line" as they call it in part because of Ginsburg's landmark decision.

"It is important to all of us, all of females that went to VMI, because of her we could be here today and have the friendships and respect among our male peers," said Riley Neary, a Virginia Beach native.

Neary graduated VMI last year, and has plans to become an officer in the Marine Corps. She remembers seeing Justice Ginsburg on a trip to D.C. as a cadet.

"I got to sit in on a case, and I was like oh my goodness, being there, she could see me, and what I was wearing and I knew I stood for so much," said Neary.

In 1996, Justice Ginsburg helped to strike down the institutes male only rule. She argued that it violated the 14th Amendment. United States versus Virginia passed almost unanimously when it reached the highest court.

"RBG took down the gate and we stormed it and I hope we continue to, and that more girls continue to attend," said Demetra Protogyrou, a Norfolk native.

Protogyrou followed in her father and brother's footsteps in attending VMI.

"She did so much for me, not just at VMI but for women in general, she was trailblazer and I am so sad to see her gone," said Protogryou.