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Finally, 60 Years Later The Names of The 38 WASP Killed In Service During WWII Are Read intoThe Congressional Record

Remembering the Thirty-Eight By Julia Lauria-Blum -November 11, 2003

A ceremony honoring the service of the WASP and a presentation of a
Resolution to formerly recognize the 38 women pilots who died in the service
of their country during WWII took place on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2003 at
Long Island National Cemetery at Pinelawn.

Convening beneath the mast of the cemetery’s central American flag, a
podium was positioned and faced about 100 attendees. Beside the podium
were seated two former WASP Margaret Gilman, Eleanor Faust and the
daughter of WASP, the late Fran Laraway Smith. On the other side of the
podium was Rep. Steve Israel and myself. Behind us all, 38 students from
Farmingdale schools stood including my daughters, their friends, members of
the Jr. Historical Society, the Jr. Fire Dept. and 3 Girl Scout cadets...all youth.
Each of the children held a white lily bouquet, individually wrapped with a
ribbon of red, white and blue.

After the playing of the National Anthem with a Marine Color Guard and
many Veterans in attendance saluting, I was asked to step up to the podium. I
read the “Forward” from “In Memoriam, The Thirty-Eight” and then introduced
Congressman Steve Israel. Rep. Israel stood at the podium and spoke of the
Women Airforce Service Pilots, the former WASP attending, and of the family
of a former WASP who were there on their mother’s behalf. The Congressman
spoke of the 38 WASP who died in the service of their country during WWII
and presented a Resolution honoring the achievements of the Women
Airforce Service Pilots, thus seeking the formal recognition of the Thirty –
Eight who gave their lives during WWII. He presented me a framed copy of
the Congressional Record containing the names of the 38 WASP that he read
to the House of Representatives “Honor Women Airforce Service Pilots”
dated Nov. 7 and of the H. Con Resolution dated Nov. 11, 2003 . I was then
introduced by Rep. Israel and asked to stand at the podium to read the names
of each of the 38 WASP. I first read an excerpt by Archibald McLeish from “In
Memoriam,The Thirty-Eight”, and then proceeded to read each of the 38 names
individually, briefly pausing between each. Those present bowed their heads
and paused silently as each name was read. Upon completing the reading of
names, a moment passed and then down the long promenade that
approached the area where we were assembled, a P-47 Thunderbolt from the
American Airpower Museum flew overhead and the official ceremony ended.

Having recalled hearing that National Cemetery, Pinelawn was the final
resting place of a WASP, Rita McArdle, (who passed on in 1998) and in lieu of
having the 38 students place their lilies beneath the mast of the flag where we
had stood, we walked to WASP Rita McArdle’s grave which was located for
me by a fellow museum volunteer and situated near where we had
assembled. (Appropriately, Rita McArdle had been one of the WASP who had
flown P-47s in the skies above , from the adjacent Republic Air Field 60 years
earlier.) The Congressman and myself each placed a lily, then each student
came forth individually, placing their lily down in a deep arrangement that
cradled her marker. We took a moment to remember all Veterans on that
Veterans Day, the WASP and particularly the 38 WASP.