Remembrances Can Give You Goosebumps
Just back from Washington DC and the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal. The actual ceremony will be broadcast tonight on CSPAN and has been picked up by all major television and print media. But what you won't see is the Remembrance Ceremony held the day before to honor the 38 women who died in the course of duty as WASP-Women Air Force Service Pilots. Because they were not "official" military, there were no benefits, no gold stars, no flags draped over a coffin, and in at least one case, their fellow WASP passed a hat to send the body home. On Tues, March 9, 2011, hundreds of us stood at the base of the Air Force Memorial. From its hilltop vantage, we looked over the Pentagon and out in the distance to Arlington Cemetery and the Washington Monument. The WASP who could attend were in wheel chairs and walkers--each with their personal military escort. The sky was radiant blue and the stainless steel spires of this Air Force Monument sculpture evoked a clear vision of jet streams hanging in the sky. In quiet, the flags of every branch of the service and our nation's flag were solemnly carried in. A clear voice began singing the Star Spangled Banner and before the second stanza, across the sky came four Air Force jets, peeling off in the "missing man" formation. I sobbed. As each woman's name was read, a military official placed a rose next to a wreath. Taps were sounded and in that moment--some 65 years' later--closure came to these aviators who raced across the sky in service of their country. Amen.