COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL ) – The National Infantry Museum unveiled a brand new exhibit to honor Major Kristen Griest, the first female Infantry Officer. As the museum lines its walls with stories of bravery and honor, Major Griest’s legacy has undoubtedly earned a spot in those ranks. 

Major Griest is known for being a “first.” She was among the first two women to graduate Ranger School. She was the first female infantry officer and commanded the first gender-integrated infantry company. 

While paving the pay, the road was not easy. Ranger School consisted of grueling physical fitness tests and minimal food or sleep; one by one, women were told they were getting dropped. The odds were stacked against Griest, but she was determined to not let her childhood dream slip away. 

“I wanted to do that stuff as a kid,” Major Griest said. “So I was really thinking of eight year old me and future eight year old girls out there that might want to do this. It really wasn’t an option to quit at that point. “

Before unveiling of the exhibit, Griest was promoted to the grade of Major. The ceremony was filled with the mentors who inspired her along the way, as well as several young women in uniform who look to her for inspiration. Museum Director Scott Daubert says she will inspire women for generations to come. 

“There were a few women before in army history that have banged on the door to break the barrier,” Daubert said. “[Major] Griest was the one to be able to break the barriers.” 

Griest says, when faced with a challenge, it is important to just show up.

“Don’t count yourself out,” Major Griest said. “Everybody naturally has doubt – especially women when it comes to going to Ranger School or joining the infantry…. but everything I thought I couldn’t do, it was never as bad as I thought when I showed up. That’s what I try to impart on women. Just make somebody else tell you no, don’t count yourself out because you have no idea what you’re capable of.”

During Daubert’s speech, he shared how Griest’s accomplishments will pave the way for the next generation of female leaders. 

He said that as a girl dad, if his daughter ever doubts herself or doesn’t think her dreams are possible, he will be able to point to Griest’s exhibit. She will be able to see with her own eyes that women are capable of anything. 

Major Griest was the first, but certainly not the last. As several young women work to follow in her footsteps, she’s headed to West Point to raise up the next generation of cadets.