When I read the title, I thought the book would be about women in the military. But it is so much more. Jeanie Sutton Lambright took two years of her life to capture the experiences that serve as a reminder that war touches all of us. These beautiful, meaningful stories are told by women who were born around the dawn of the women's suffrage movement, who grew up in the affluent 1920s, and who became adults during the Depression. They are the only women in history to live through four major conflicts with fathers in World War I, husbands and brothers in World War II and Korea, and sons in Vietnam.
Each story is about one woman who provides a different perspective on how they endured. They each are different - poor, rich, servicewomen, pilots, Europeans, Japanese Americans, African Americans, Hawaiians with a different outlook on December 7, 1941, women taking traditional men's jobs outside and inside the home, and many nurses. Some of these women were held in limbo because their husbands were MIA's or POW's. I marveled at their courage and wondered if my generation of baby boomers would have been as brave.
For example, Suzanne Haynes Murray writes, "World War II and its memories have been so much a part of our lives. For some widows it's almost a ritual to hold onto some talisman that was meaningful to their husbands. For me it was the GI bracelet, with his blood type engraved on the back, the initial for his religion, and the military identification number that was as familiar to him as his name."
Marie Benoit Lord writes, "It's been such a long time, I didn't think going back to those days would be so difficult. I thought I'd shed all the tears there were to cry, but when I allow myself to remember, there are always more. Eugene Lord and I had been married a little over seven years when he was killed on Christmas Day, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge."
A further sadness is that many other stories will not be told because women took their history to the grave with them. It may be that they didn't want to talk about it, or maybe no one ever asked. However, some loved ones now are trying to tell what they remember hearing from their mothers, grandmothers, etc.
They Also Served offers a special bonus of numerous photos reprinted from personal collections and newspapers, as well as follow-ups on the life paths taken by the individuals profiled in the book.
We owe such a debt of gratitude to these women who were not trying to fight for women's rights but were showing the strength and capacity of the human spirit. Despite their diverse races, creeds and circumstances, none felt bitterness or resentment. Instead, they were (and still are) devoted to their country and feel "They Also Served."
Jeanie Sutton Lambright has had a lifelong interest in World War II by working with veterans in the federal government and visiting historical military sites in Europe and Asia. Now widowed, she was married to a decorated fighter pilot. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas and resides in Addison, Texas.
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