These two words do not seem enough to express the pride, reverence, and respect I wish to convey to the men and women who have donned a uniform in defense of our nation. Thank you. Thank you for your service and your sacrifices.
Today November 11th is Veterans Day, a day to honor the people who have served in the US Armed Forces. While we should remember these special people every day, today it is with great pause that we as a nation collectively say thank you to our troops and remember those who have served. Among the many I thank, I hold a very special tribute in my heart for my grandmother, Sally Buck Alapi, who served as a Navy W.A.V.E. during WWII.
As a child, I didn’t understand the significance of the picture that hung in my grandparents’ house showing both my grandfather and my grandmother in uniform. I did not understand how very rare it was at the time to see a woman in uniform.
My grandmother came from a farming family of five girls, no sons, and my grandmother was the youngest. In August 1942 the US Navy established the WAVES, or “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service,” effectively ending a 23 year absence of women serving in the Navy. The WAVES foundation allowed the Navy to accept large numbers of enlisted woman and have female commissioned officers in a wider range of occupation than they had previously served. In October of 1942 my grandmother turned 18 years old and joined the Navy. She often joked she joined so her father didn’t miss not having a son. Whatever the reason, she decided to enlist and she became a WAVE. Within a year of establishment, the WAVES numbered 27,000 women. Sally B. Alapi was among the first women who wore the WAVES uniform.
As a parent, we set our children forth on the world and tell them to break new ground, forge new frontiers, break glass ceilings, and never stop pushing the boundaries. We dream big for our children. In reality, the opportunities to truly be one of the firsts are few and far between. Our children may be great, but they rarely are the first especially in this day and age. I am privileged to be related to a great lady who was among the first. My grandmother taught me many, many things, among them she taught me to love my country, to work hard, that there are no gender roles in life, and the all-important half-step in stride so that someone can open the door for you.
I love you, Grandma!
Today and every day I honor you as a Veteran of the United States. Thank you to all who serve and all who have served.
“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” – Abraham Lincoln