Saturday, May 9, 2015

GranFran and 13 other Rosies were honored by the Dutch Embassy

    It was quite moving to be part of a ceremony at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington, D. C. last weekend, when 14 representative "Rosie the Riveter" working women of World War II were honored for their service in helping to liberate The Netherlands 70 years ago. My mom, Dr. Fran Carter (fourth from the left in the photo) was one of them.
14 Rosies represented all the Rosies who helped
 make Operation Chowhound a reality, pictured here 
with organizers.

    By the winter and spring of 1945, the war had taken its toll on so many countries in Europe. Still under German occupation, citizens of The Netherlands were starving. You can read more about The Hunger Winter in The Netherlands here and here.
     In late April and early May of 1945, Allied bombers dropped food, including military rations, into the countryside. The British wave of drops was called Operation Manna and the American wave was named Operation Chowhound. Click here to see some great historical footage of actual sorties and drops in this humanitarian effort. Though distribution was a challenge under such difficult circumstances, the operations provided more than 10,000 pounds of food, as well as hope for Dutch citizens. Rosies had helped to build the planes, the parachutes, and even package the food that was dropped, so The Netherlands honored these 14 Rosies as representatives of the many who helped. The military who participated are being honored in a separate ceremony.
GranFran (front, right) with a
fellow Rosie, Ambassador Bekink,
and Commodore Reefman.
It was exciting to be a part of
this ceremony with GranFran
and my brother, Wayne.
   Dr. Hugo Keesing, who was two years old in The Netherlands at the time of the airdrops, helped to organize the thank-you, as one of the children who was saved by the drops. A prolific collector and archivist of pop music, he arranged for a presentation of popular songs from the '40's: "Lady's on the Job," "Sweetheart in Overalls," "Mama, Put Your Britches On" and one we knew very well, "Rosie the Riveter." Also expressing gratitude to the Rosies were Ambassador H. E. Rudolf Bekink and Commodore Ralph Reefman, Defense Attache.
     Other organizers were Thanks, Plain and Simple, which is a West Virginia-based non-profit that honors Rosies, and a club of Dutch residents in the D. C. area called D. C. Dutch.
     What a day!

Friday, May 8, 2015

The 70th Anniversary of V-E Day!

     Did you realize that on May 8, 1945, the fighting was over in Europe? What a day that must have been!
    In Free-Falling for Freedom and also Some Sidelights of Operation Dragoon, my dad described his experience of trying to report back to his Headquarters, which meant navigating Paris in two open jeeps:

My dad, John T. Carter, in 1945
 "The entire city of Paris was one big celebration. The streets were crowded and blocked. I was driving, and there were many human traffic jams, so we had to stop often. The Parisians were so jubilant, they would pile into the jeep and celebrate, even if we wouldn't get out. Every time I had to stop, the French passengers would jump out and another batch would jump in. It was by far the most fascinating battle I had participated in!"

     Now 70 years later, GranFran and I celebrated the 70th anniversary of V-E Day with visits to two awesome schools.
Advent Episcopal School and Church
     First, we visited Advent Episcopal School in its beautiful downtown Birmingham location. We were so fortunate to be there on the day of their weekly chapel service, in which students participated and also took leadership roles. Second grade teacher Beverly Crawford had arranged for us to share with students in grades pre-K through 8 about the legacy of Rosie the Riveter. What amazing students we met there!
     Then, we were with Williams Intermediate School in Pell City on the actual V-E Day. Under the direction of 6th grade teacher Amy Martin, ten classes of sixth graders rotated to six stations that emphasized patriotism and the legacy
GranFran with sixth graders at
Williams Intermediate School
that we all received from World War II. A WW II veteran answered questions at one station, they learned the proper way to fold a flag at another, they learned some kickin' 1940's dances at another--and Rosie the Riveter (aka GranFran) shared her experiences at another! The local VFW Honor Guard provided a moving 21-gun salute and Taps, and to top it off, their school choir sang. The students were fabulous, and we were so honored to be part of their special day!