Arlington Cemetery takes one's breath away. So many soldiers. So many lives ended. So many stories to be told on this Memorial Day weekend. This past November, at the Women's War Memorial in Arlington Cemetery my sister and I joined with some 100 people for the screening of a documentary by Jill Bond, in collaboration with Colonel Randy Larsen USAF (Ret). We had a very keen interest in the film because it was the story of a band of 1076 intrepid women pilots who took over all domestic military flying for a two-year stint in WWII.
The Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) logged over 60 million air miles of wartime duty, collectively flying every plane in the U.S. arsenal. Thirty-eight died in the course of duty but because they were not officially military (despite doing everything the Air Force cadets did), there were no benefits, no flag-draped coffin, and no candle in the window to signify the death of someone in the service. Our mother was a WASP and today, I am slowly transcribing the tiny script on the letters she wrote daily to her family. I am now reading about one of the crashes and how Mom went to the hospital and donated money to send the body of her friend and fellow WASP home to parents. While the WASP were finally recognized in 2012 for their service, these 38 were dismissed for decades. You can buy the DVD here.