Everybody has a story: Dropped card inspires memory of Mom's service

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This is a thank you to a Cub Scout named Kevin who marched in the Veteran's Day parade on Nov. 10. He made a very nice thank-you card with military stickers decorating the front of it and a nice handwritten message on the inside.

I'm sure that Kevin intended to hand this card to a veteran along the parade route, but somehow dropped his card in the street at the east end of Officers Row. He must have been disappointed when he finally spotted the person he wanted to hand it to but realized the card was gone.

I would like Kevin to know that I picked up his card and gave it to a veteran who is very special to me. I am sure everyone in the parade marched right by not even knowing that this person is a veteran.

She is my 91-year-old mother, Pfc. Irma Slocum. She was sitting in her wheelchair all bundled up with blankets, across from the stand at the Marshall House where all of the highly decorated soldiers were sitting and being honored. I am sure that most of you were looking at them as you went by.

Kevin, I hope you are not disappointed that your card went to a 91-year-old woman. I will tell you a little bit about her and how she served her country in World War II.

My mother was a newlywed when she and her husband hitchhiked across the country from Mitchell, S.D., to Washington, D.C., to look for work there. But her husband got drafted and sent off to the South Pacific to fight against the Japanese. She was at a loss for what to do. She went back to Mitchell to finish college. She got a teaching degree but didn't want to teach just yet. She wanted to help with the war effort somehow.

So in August 1943, she went to the Army recruiting office in Tacoma, where she was visiting a sister, and signed up. Soon after that, she was camping at Mount Rainier when a park ranger came riding up on a horse to tell her it was time to report.

After completing her basic training, she was sent to Fort Dix, N.J. While there, she helped organize an Army administration school. She also led the women in their morning exercises five days a week at 5:30 a.m. in all kinds of weather.

While leading these exercises, she could see the trains bringing in wounded soldiers from arriving ships. She could see them in their bandages, trying to wave at the women from the open windows of the trains. The memory of it still

brings tears to her eyes. Her job was to teach some of these men how to type so they would be able to work once they returned to civilian life. This doesn't sound very glamorous, but to men who came home missing fingers, hands, arms and legs, it gave them new hope that they could still earn a living somehow. They were very appreciative.

There were many other women who served as nurses or who helped build the ships, airplanes and other vehicles needed for this war. Women who had to do jobs that men normally would because most of the men were off fighting. So, Kevin, my mother would like you to know that you did a beautiful job on your card and the message was much appreciated. She still has the card and she just loves it. Thank you for showing your support to all veterans and to the men and women who are currently serving our country.

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