Wish Stories

Virginia Honors Her Mother by Visiting the Women in Military Service for America Memorial

What did you do for fun when you were a teenager? Virginia, 97 of Bradenton, FL, remembers taking the bus downtown to spend a fun night dancing with the G.I.’s during World War II.

As a teenager during the war, Virginia and her family experienced rations and shortages, but they still felt fortunate. What helped them get through it was the pride they felt for their mother.

Back in 1918, during World War I, Virginia’s mother Clare bravely joined the Nurses Corp. And when the United States experienced a shortage of nurses during World War II, she answered the call to serve once more.

“A nurse her entire life, she was always helping others with her knowledge,” Virginia said.

Virginia’s family lived in a small community, and she fondly recalls how her mother was the go-to person when anyone was in need.

Wish recipient Virginia looks at mother's historical record at Women in Military Service for America Memorial
Wish recipient Virginia smiles broadly at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial
Wish recipient Virginia and granddaughter stand together in Women in Military Service for America Memorial

Having such a strong role model in her life shaped the path of Virginia’s life. After finishing high school, she graduated from business college and worked as a secretary until she married and adopted two children.

Virginia followed her mother’s example by becoming a pillar of her community for the last 25 years. She has chaired the Dining Service Committee, Building Interiors Committee, and served as the Secretary and Vice President of the Resident Council. She also is an active member of her community’s Memorial Scholarship Committee, which she chaired for five years.

To everyone who knows her, Virginia is a person who shares her knowledge and helps others at every opportunity—just like her mother.

In 1993, Virginia learned about the new Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Unfortunately, she could not attend the dedication ceremony and has yearned to see the memorial since then. Clare’s name and record are inside the official historical files at the memorial, alongside many brave women veterans.

“I adored my mother; I wanted to go in remembrance of her and her legacy,” she said.

Wish of a Lifetime, with the support of EY, was thrilled to grant Virginia’s wish to visit the memorial and experience her mother’s legacy in a new way. And we hoped to make the trip to Washington, D.C. even more memorable by including a special traveling companion—Virginia’s granddaughter, Deanna!

Together, they explored all the sights, from the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, to the White House and the National Museum of the United States.

Of course, the highlight of the trip was finally getting to experience the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

Wish recipient Virginia and granddaughter stand together at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial
Wish recipient Virginia receives an honorary American flag

The memorial is inside a structure that features a striking mix of Neoclassical and Modern architecture. The memorial’s staff president and vice president greeted Virginia and Deanna at the entrance, and the pair received a personal tour.

Among the many inspiring artifacts and pieces of historical memorabilia, Virginia read her mother’s historical record, which included a vintage photograph of Clare in her nursing uniform.

But that’s not all. The memorial staff members surprised the VIPs with a flag-raising ceremony in honor of Clare’s service.

“They unfurled a flag for us,” Virginia explained. “They raised it up, brought it down, and presented it to us formally.”

It was an emotional and meaningful moment for Virginia on multiple levels. Throughout her life, Clare had mentioned many times that she wished to be buried with a service flag—it was something that held significant meaning for her. Virginia and her sister carried out those wishes when Clare passed. And now, Virginia had a flag of her own to honor her mother.

“I am going to frame it,” she said. “It is something I will have for the rest of my life, and my children will have it when I am gone.”

Virginia reflected on the experiences and emotions of the trip. “My mother didn’t talk much about her days in the service, but I knew how much it meant to her,” she said. “Seeing these servicewomen and the articles about them, it was wonderful for me to see it as she would have seen it in her eyes.”

Sharing the experience with her granddaughter made the trip even more meaningful.

“That was very important…It was just absolutely fantastic. We can’t thank you enough.”

 

Wish recipient Virginia and granddaughter embrace outside the Women in Military Service for America Memorial

One incredible story at a time, Wish of a Lifetime is changing the perception of aging—not just how we view our oldest citizens but also how we see and value ourselves as we age.

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