Members of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) were the first women, other than nurses, to serve overseas during World War II. Presenter Cyndee Schaffer’s mother, Mollie Weinstein Schaffer, was one of those women. Drawing upon excerpts from Mollie’s letters sent home during the war, this
presentation provides a romantic, yet frightful glimpse into the life of a woman in uniform during this crucial time in history.
This presentation details Mollie’s experiences from basic training in Florida in October 1943 to the dramatic moment when the Statue of Liberty came into view upon her return in November 1945. It traces the footsteps of the women who served in Europe, following Mollie and her fellow WACs who were stationed in London, England, before D-Day and during the post-D-Day German buzz bomb attacks.
The WACs were transferred to Normandy two months after D-Day and then to Paris after its liberation by the Allies. Finally, they traveled to Frankfurt, Germany, as part of the Army of Occupation and witnessed first-hand the devastation of that country before returning to the United States, where she enthusiastically embraced life as a resident of Chicago.
This presentation will also feature information about other WACs from Illinois, including two based at Camp Ellis in Fulton County who served as telephone operators for the Roosevelt-Churchill Conference in Quebec in September 1944. It will invite contemplation of the vital and varied roles that women have fulfilled in the American military and as citizens of Illinois.
Cyndee Schaffer collaborated with her 91-year-old mother to write a book based on the letters that her mother sent home to her family while serving as a WAC (Women’s Army Corps) in Europe during World War II. The award-winning Mollie’s War (McFarland Publishers, 2010) is the result of that endeavor. Schaffer is editor of the Midwest Writers Association’s monthly newsletter.
Illinois Humanities is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Illinois General Assembly [through the Illinois Arts Council Agency], as well as by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by speakers, program participants, or audiences do not necessarily reflect those of the NEH, Illinois Humanities, our partnering organizations, or our funders.
FREE with Museum admission. No registration required.
The program will take place in the North Shore Gas Education Classroom. For more information contact Sarah Salto at email@example.com