Military Gear & Army Surplus Gear Blog

First National Reunion of WWII Code Girls

First National Reunion of WWII Code Girls


12:06 PM (EST) CAPTIONER: Standing by . Standing by »: Good afternoon. Good afternoon. I am Karen Lloyd, retired Army
aviation kernel and director of the Veterans History Project here at the
Library of Congress. Please stand as you are able as
we receive today’s Anna, the “Code Girls” of World War II
followed by loved ones from across the nation, each of whom
is holding a photograph of his or her beloved “Code Girl. ” And please remain standing
and hold your applause until all are seated. And let’s give these amazing
people a round of applause. (Applause) KAREN LLOYD: Thank you. And now please be seated. Thank you. And now please be
seated. There are going to be additional
seats in this room, but there is also seating in this room that
is just behind us and it is going to be shown livestream on
video. So if you would care to move back there, you are more
than welcome to do that. What an amazing and warm tribute
to some very, very special trailblazers! On behalf of the
Library of Congress, Dr. Carl Hayden, welcome to the
library of congress. And I would like to say welcome to everyone who chose to tune in
today to witness this momentum event live on the Library of
Congress’ Facebook page and YouTube shout — YouTube
channel. And a shout out to more than 100,000 members from Nancy Tipton’s sorority across
the nation. And a very, very special shout
out to “Code Girl” Dorothy Braden Bruce, Dot, who could not
be here today, but is watching from Virginia. We miss you,
Dot. (Applause) If you have been a friend of the
Library of Congress’ history project for more than a year,
then you may recall we were in the very same room last March
celebrating women’s history month and at that time we were
hosting a book talk with the New York Times best
selling author, Liza Mundy, who wrote “Code Girls: The Untold
Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II”.”
We are excited to have Liza back with us today as she will
provide historical context to these
women’s a service. But I want to make it clear that today, women, history month is a
way of showing a long overdue public appreciation on behalf of
of a grateful nation to the World War II “Code Girls”
including those who are no longer with us. As a woman, I understand there
are some things we prefer not to
discuss, but today, I will make an exception because they “Code
Girls” who are with us today, while they may not care to admit it, all are in their
mid-nineties and older. I imagine still traveling after
all, these years. I realize it is no small feat for them to
join us today in person, which makes their presence all the
more special. I had the privilege of spending
some time with them, getting to know them earlier this morning and all I
can say is, “Wow!” And I hope to be as spry and sharp as they are
when I hit my mid-nineties. If I had known being a math or linguistics major was the secret
to longevity, I would have changed my college plans. If
there are any students listening, please take note. The veterans history Project
collects, preserves, and makes accessible the stories of the
United States military veterans who served from World War I to
the current conflict so that future generations may directly
hear from them and better understand their selfless
service. To date we have over 110,000
collections in our archives and that number grows daily. Our collections include video,
audio reported oral history
interviews, photographs, letters, military documents, journals and diaries,
and even two-dimensional artwork. We, not only highlight
existing collections, but we continue to solicit volunteers
from across the nation to gather these stories from the veterans
and their lives and their communities. So we hear their first remanence
is, personal philosophy, and their creativity so we can
preserve it. And in doing so, we all better understand our
history. You may be wondering how a project that focuses on
oral history and other materials took on the role of hosting a
reunion for “Code Girls.” Well, very much like what we do, it
all started with a research question. As part of the nation of’s
library, research is at the crux of everything that we do. We don’t just collect materials
and tuck them away on a shelf never to be seen again, we are
in constant communication with researchers,
authors, scholars, filmmakers, family may
peers, and the general public, all of them who are looking for
authentic first-hand accounts that cannot always be found in
textbooks or official service records. So in Liza was
connecting research for her book, she contacted the
Veterans History Project as one of her many vital resources.
Was the book was published, the outpouring of interest in the
“Code Girls” was nothing short of amazing. As the people read their books,
they recognize bits and pieces of
their mother, their aunts, their grandmother’s history. A certain mystique surrounding
her role in the war effort and unexplained military documents
among personal belongings and hit them photographs she just
wouldn’t talk about. Soon an online community began to take
shape and many wondered why it seemed the “Code Girls” had been
all, but written out of history. The time is now, they said, to
publicly honor these women for their brilliance and bravery.
The only thing left to do was to find someone willing and able to host
what is now known as the first national
reunion for these historic changemakers. Fast forward a
few months and here we are. As she comes forward, I would
like to thank Liza for allowing her research to be the spark that lit this fire
that encouraged the Veterans History Project to coordinate
this event. It has been a labor of love. Ladies and gentlemen, I present
to you Liza Mundy. (Applause) LIZA MUNDY: Thank you, so
much, Karen. Good morning, everybody, good
afternoon, and happy Women’s History Month. Recently I was
at dinner with a group of men and women and it happened to be
international women’s day that day and we were chatting about it and
the women present thanked the men for
giving us a day. (Laughter) And the men graciously told us
that we were welcome. So with regard to months, I
think it is good to have months devoted to special groups, but
it would of course have been nice or every month or
everybody’s history month. Unfortunately, great research
institutions like the library of congress exist to make sure that
that happens. And I want to thank Karen and Liza Taylor and
the staff of the Veterans History Project for maintaining
such a wonderful archive of recollections of our nation’s
service members and through the contributions that the families
are making today to augment the
holdings of the Veterans History Project, you are making sure
that they women’s experience is ever better recorded and I can
ensure you that your donation is in very good hands. When I was researching “Code
Girls” I was so grateful for the collection of military oral
histories and other documents and the knowledge and ability and helpfulness of the staff at
the Veterans History Project was incredible. It is not an
exaggeration to say that it is thrilling to avail oneself of
research in such a magnificent setting. It is also daunting
and thrilling to speak in a setting like this.
But if you want to talk about daunting, our recently had
an experience that was even more challenging. I had to talk to a group of
fifth graders. (Laughter) There was a young reader’s
addition of “Code Girls” which means that the inspiring story of the code
women is being imparted to girls and two boys to tell the story
of women’s contributions to what was early computer
coding and research as well as code breaking. I was very nervous because
12-year-olds are a tough crowd. They don’t necessarily have to
listen or be polite and I didn’t have any gimmicks to keep them
occupied. There had been a power outage that morning and
the power wasn’t working so I didn’t have my PowerPoint and
I had to improvise. So in a bit of a panic I ask how
many of them had ever constructed some sort of secret
language to communicate with a friend or another person,
something actually we were just talking about at lunch today
before this event. Every hand in the room shot up. And when I ask them what sort of
language that they had used, what sort of codes and ciphers
they had created, there was an astonishing variety. Some of
them had developed their own sign language. Some of them
were using fancy versions of pig Latin and some actually
new specific historical code and cipher system like the pigpen
site, which involves a table that I don’t
personally understand. One girl said she would put a
Greek language template over her computer keyboard and send a
message to a friend and the friend would use Google
Translate to decipher the message. And when I ask them if they ever
used their phones to communicate with each other, they said, “We
are not allowed to have cell phones. We are fifth graders!”
And when I ask them what they were communicating, they were
trying to conspire with friends to get their parents to do
things like set up a dates. I mentioned this because it got me
thinking what I thought so many times during the course of writing
this book about the fundamental human urge to communicate. And
it since the origins of language, since the origins of
our ability to write and speak, it has been our impulse to
communicate urgently with someone who is important to us,
often with the hopes that the enemy will be able to
understand. This happens in wars and military settings and a
pharmacy and the context of government where there is a real
enemy often, but for children, the enemy of course is us,
right? The adults and parents. But the topic of communication is so
fundamental to why we are here it is indeed a fundamental human
urge. It is a necessity and, in essence, in wartime as well as
the diplomacy. It is something we have to do as well as people
and countries and government leaders, but what struck me also
interviewing the women for my book is that they were unable for so
many years to communicate to anyone the importance of what
they had contributed during World War II at this crucial
moment for the world. To give you a sense of what that was like for them emotionally,
the central character in my book, Dot, Dorothy Braden Bruce, she
worked all during World War II during what was called 2, 4, 6, 8, what was
being used by the Japanese supply ship to supply the
Japanese Army. It was one of the three most important code
breaking operations during World War II. After the war she had
two younger brothers who were both in military service and
they both fortunately survive the war and when they
came back, they both had jobs involved with top-secret
security clearance is. And I learned after the book came out
from one of her nephews that at family reunions the brothers
would come together and talk about their
top-secret security clearances and Dot could never tell them
she had a top-secret security clearance as well during the war
and that is the kind of thing that the women had to put up
with and live with and I think many of them accepted it
as what happens when you do intelligence
work during wartime, or at any other time, but the thing is that even after
these story was declassified, most of them never realized
this. Some of the women were told that it was okay to finally
talk about most of the women worked. Many of them, you know, never
told anybody what they had did, never got credit for their work.
And so when I was interviewing women, often I had to convince
them. Like we had to convince a Dot it
was finally okay to tell her story and it took us about a
half in. And she finally said, “What are
they going to do? Put me in prison?” And I said, “At your
age, it will probably be a nice present.” And so she had a good
sense of humor and she liked that. But I know that women
were powerfully motivated to tell their stories and finally
get credit for what they did and I will never forget when Janice,
a graduate who served in the U.S. Navy, I was interviewing
her in the emergency room because she broke her wrist the
night before and she said, “I hope I live long enough to see
your book published.” And I’m very happy to say that she did
and it was very meaningful for the women I think to have their
achievements known and recognized entities it is very
meaningful for me to be trusted with their story, to know that they
were communicating there secret to me and that it
was my responsibility to try to communicate their story
accurately and well. I want to particularly thank Jim
Broome who sat with me to persuade his mother to talk.
That was the first interview I conducted for my book and it did
signal to me that it would be possible, might be possible to
find the women and persuade them to talk and I would like to
thank Debbie Anderson who unfortunately is not here today,
but she had amassed a really impressive archive of women who
worked in Dayton, Ohio,, helping to build the machines that we would use to work with the
German ciphers. She worked with those women in Dayton for a
number of years and I benefited enormously from a number of her
archives. There are so many family members here. I have
e-mail with you and talked with you on the phone and you have
made your family records available to me and made oral histories available,
memorabilia, scrapbooks — the women, they saved their
restaurant menus and saved their concert tickets in Washington,
every scrap of information that the women saved was useful to me
in trying to convey what wartime Washington
was like where women were living in the nation’s S capitol and
often living un-chaperoned for the first time in their life.
They’ll remember remembered when the liquor stores was closed in DC
versus Virginia. (Laughter)
But I want to thank the family members who rightly
recognized that your mother’s grandmothers are national
treasures and who had kept this memorabilia and made it
available to me for this attempt to communicate what the women it
contributed. All of this is a form of communication. It enables authors to
communicate the tail a way to tell it in a way that is vivid
enough that people want to read it.
I worry sometimes that readers might disbelieve this
story given its magnitude. This is a story of more than
10,000 women who answered the nation’s
call to serve as their brothers and boyfriends were getting on
aircraft carriers and convoys out in the Pacific and Atlantic
ocean. These women are small towns. They were recruited as
college seniors. They were called in and ask
questions like, “Do you like crossword puzzles? And are you engaged to be
married? ” And many of them were
schoolteachers who signed up for the war Department not knowing
even what the secret work was that they were going to be
doing. They came to Washington and generally their welcome to
Washington was being told that they would be shot if
they talked about the work that they were doing during the war.
That was there greeting upon arriving in the nation’s capitol and I
worried sometimes — this was an untold story and I thought our
people really going to believe this? And if I can find women who will
tell me their story and what they remember, I worried how
will I document this and how will I substantiate it? So one again, I’m so grateful to
the Library of Congress for providing the records to help
document a story and all of the families who had saved all of
these letters. And as Karen mentioned, snippets
of things that sometimes they did
not know what had happened, what had gone on, most of these women
would not tell their families what they have been doing in
Washington, but the families knew the records were important
and they saved them and made them available and I guarantee and you read every
word and it all was used to try to communicate the story. As I
imagine most of you know World War II was a tipping point for
women joining the military. It was a big deal when the WAVES
was created in the U.S. Navy, women accepted for the
military service. There will women Marines and women were
accepted in the WACs. This was a tipping point and it was a big
deal because this was total war, global warp. The men had shipped out and the
nation was willing to be what we would
today call inclusive, to tap the
women, to send out emissaries to recruit women from colleges and
from teachers colleges. Women blue transport planes and they
worked in air traffic towers. They received Morse code
communications. They encoded our own US military messages and
they followed the men onto the beaches of Normandy after the
D-Day landings and would run communication for the Allied forces as we were
chasing the Germans through France and Belgium and, of
course, they broke codes and the military victory as a result of
code breaking it during World War II are too numerous to
mention here and they include the bait — a great victory in
the Battle of Midway, which is one of the most famous battles
of all time. It was the turning point in the Pacific war where we had been so
terribly surprised at Pearl Harbor six months earlier. Dates were used by the U-boats
in the Atlantic and the breaking up the water transport code
being used by the ships supplying the Japanese Army as
well as reading diplomatic communications that Japanese diplomats or sending
from Europe back to Tokyo. We read every one of those
things woman named Genevieve who had the insight in 1940 that
allowed us to break that machine cipher, and the kind of
intelligence that we got from these key medications. To give you one example the
Japanese diplomats were invited to tour the coast of France and
Hitler’s Atlantic wall, which was his fortification to repel
an Allied invasion. They dutifully reported back to Tokyo
on where the coast of France was well fortified and where it
wasn’t so we knew when we planned the D-Day landings that
Normandy would be a better place to land then a spot like Calay. That is
a kind of service the women provided and after the war there
was no going back in terms of women military services. And so again, on behalf of all
researchers, I want to thank you for your donations today.
Because you are ensuring that researchers and authors will
continue to be able to communicate the story to the
American public, to fill out our understanding of our nation’s
history and the effect of which women have served in the
military for more than half a century now. And you know it is important to
fill out our understanding of American History and the many
groups of people who have served the cause of freedom and
contributed to the progress of our country. I just keep coming back to this
theme of communication. It is so essential for the individual,
right? We all have the need to communicate our own personal
thoughts and stories, but for our understanding of ourselves.
And I also want to say how inspired I was personally by the
stories that these women communicated to me. There were
many days when I felt overwhelmed by the task of
understanding and writing the story of their service and
whenever I felt overwhelmed, I thought about the job they had
to do during wartime, so emotionally stressful, and so
intellectually challenging. And the fact that lives were at
stake and the fact they had to work as quickly as possible. And I felt so inspired by this
and I know now that readers feel the same way. And as a nation
it is helpful and heartening to read true stories
of inspiring achievement and the women in this audience, as well
as those who could not be here are a stirring example of that to remind us of who we
are, and to recall us to our best selves. The thing that surprised me most
was how many families of “Code Girls” I heard from after the
book was published. Many of you are in the audience today and many are serving in the
diplomatic intelligence community. It is no
exaggeration to say that the “Code Girls,” through your
military service, not only helped in the war, but you also
established a tradition of military and public service in
your own families. And so I just wanted to read
from the afterward of the paperback some of the
testimonials that I got from readers talking about their
mothers and grandmothers and what they learned that they had never been told by
women who were just not going to talk about it.
, “My mother would never tell me what she did during the war”
wrote Karen stop Johnson, daughter of anime May Barrett.
Her mother enlisted in the way be a member of the WAVES, was a
math whiz and obtained a very high clearances in her work.
And “Code Girls,” she wrote, offered her a window into what
her mother’s life entailed. Here is another one. I feel as
though my life has been turned upside down, wrote Gail
Simmons, Provost of the University. Simmons knew her
mother, Barber June was in some fashion a “Code Girl” and she
served in the WAVES and went to Boot Camp at Hunter College and
would, if pressed, say that she did work with codes, but like
the women you described, she would not crack and give anyone
in the family any details. It was clear that something about
the experience had affected her deeply, but she opened up to no
one. Reading the book, GAEL wrote, at all suddenly makes the
snippets I knew about my mother add up and it has taken my
breath away. It has brought a feeling of closeness with my
mother that I never had while she was living. Jenny Landis wrote to me about
her mother Mary who had graduated from Montana State
College with a degree in math and science before joining the
WAVES. Mom never mentioned her service until at least 50 years
have passed, Jenny wrote. She died in 1992 and we had not
asked or any detailed questions. It is difficult to realize that
our mother, a brilliant and incredible woman was resigned to a life of house
wiferery post-World War II. Other were almost funny. Norman
wrote about her mother, Jean Theresa and he recalled that
once he was sitting in his parents’ den with his parents and sibling watching a
60-minute segment about World War II. It mentioned the battle
of the coral sea and the code breaking that preceded that
engagement. I guess I canal now tell you what I did during the
war. (Laughter) His mother abruptly said . Turgenson’s S father began
explaining that their mom had been a secretary. When she interrupted him , “No Harold; I broke codes for
the Navy and my girls worked on and broke that code. ” She stood up and high-fived
everybody in the room. (Laughter)
(Applause) Dad was speechless I remember. So another one was my favorite
when. They are all of my favorites. So this was at a
book talk. A man came up to me afterwards
and he recalled that both his parents soared with the Navy
during the war. His mother was in Washington and his father was
in the Pacific. He knew they were both in code breaking, but
they would not say more than that, not even to each other.
One day he took them to the cryptologic Museum at Fort Meade
where there is a version of the purple machine that was used by
the Japanese diplomats. They were using a machine called,
“Purple.” His mother was startled to see it. She had not
realized even now that it is okay to acknowledge it existed
and that we broke it. ” I worked on that machine” she
told them proudly to which her husband replied, “You worked on
purple? I worked on purple! ” They belong to the same code breaking chain and did not
even know it! And so finally this experience
also made me think we should all as the people in our families,
especially the servicemembers about their lives and their past
to understand what has come before. I am very grateful that
we are living in a time where the stories of women, people of color, and other once
marginalized groups are more and more becoming a known and
recognized part of our history. I think of the “Code Girls” as
the hidden figures of the greatest generation. And on
behalf of all of us who are still benefiting from their
tenacity and dedication, I would like to thank them all and thank
you for being here today. (Applause) KAREN LLOYD: Thank you,
Liza for providing us that thorough historical overview of
the “Code Girls” service. I absolutely loved it! Thank you.
Many didn’t realize it back then, but we now know these
women were changemakers and every sense of the word. The
United States, not to mention the world, would be a very
different place today if not for these secret
code breakers of World War II. Now I would like to invite Mrs. Nancy Tipton to share a few words
about her service in the signal Corps. At 96 she has traveled
with her family all the way from Centennial Colorado. Mrs.
Tipton shared with us that after her service she went on to lead
quite an adventure life, even by today’s standards. She worked in advertising, wrote
a shopping column for a local newspaper, and proudly earned
more money than her husband. (Laughter) Please welcome Mrs. Nancy Thomas Tipton.
(Applause) NANCY TIPTON: Hello, “Code
Girls”! And hello to you all. I’m also pleased to have my
three children and my daughter-in-law,
my son Scott and his wife Martha from
Fort Collins and my daughter Ann from Olympia, Washington, and my
daughter Susan from Lakewood Colorado, with me. And I also want to spay — pay
special attention to Cammie — where are you, Cammie?
Her mother was a dear friend of mind and was a code breaker. She was in the Navy so we are
honoring her today too. I don’t speak often in public like this.
But anyway… I especially want to thank Liza
Mundy for being here because it is such a special treat to have
her here. (Applause) And you all know that our work
was top-secret and I have a couple of stories to tell you
about how top-secret they were, and about five years
ago, my roommate from Washington, who still lives here and who I will see on
Sunday, came to see me, visit me in
Colorado with her husband. And I got out my scrapbook, of
course, and it was full of, as a said,
it was full of restaurant menus and football games and bar and cigarette
covers. (Laughter) But in the middle of it, she saw
this certificate. And I had gotten a raise from
2300 to 3400. And the certificate said, “Crypt
analyst” on it. And she said, “What is that?” And I said,
“That is what we did during World War II.” And she said,
“Oh, no. I worked in the library. ” And I did not know we had a
library. Yet she and I took the bus and
slept in the same room together and yet we never talk about it.
And the other when I had to say is my brother, a year ago he got the Congressional medal of a and he
went to eight big cryptology Museum here. And he was really excited about
all of the machines. And so he told me, he said, “We
have all of these different names and numbers and everything
and machines.” And I said, “I never saw a machine. I did not
know we had machines. You must really knew exactly what you are
doing. And nobody else knew. ” So anyway I do want to thank
Liza Taylor too for hosting this
wonderful event. Thank you. (Applause) KAREN LLOYD: Thank you,
Mrs. Tipton. You are an inspiration to us all. Next I
would like to invite Mrs. Suzanne Embree to share a little
bit about her day as a member of the US Navy WAVES. Mrs. Embree is 97 and lives in
Litchfield, Maryland. She spent two years during the war
breaking Japanese secret codes, all the while worrying about her
brother who was serving in the Pacific. Please welcome Mrs.
Suzanne Embree. (Applause) SUZANNE EMBREE: I am very pleased that we all
are able to come here today. I think one of the wonderful
things about the Second World War was
that it helped not only us speak with
each other, communicate with each
other, but it also brought people from around the world
together and that is one of the things I would like to mention particularly because when the Japanese war, it was
the only part of the war still being worked on after the D-Day. The people at Bletchley Park who
were in the Japanese hut or sent over
here to work with us. And the person that I worked
with — I don’t remember if I told this to
Liza, they were known as Lindley Jesus Christ. He looked very much like the
picture of Jesus that one remembers,
seen Jesus knocking at the door. He had the same lien here did
look, very serious, and he was very
serious. I was amazed later when I went
to Bletchley Park itself and saw and learned that one of the reasons
he was sent to us was that he was
having a good time at Bletchley Park. He and his wife were teaching
everybody a Scottish dance. (Laughter) He didn’t teach us that. We were very sober. I worked primarily with Fred son
Powers. Those of you who went to
University of Virginia are probably familiar with Fredson
who in turn had a wife who was also an interesting character. I never met her, but she wrote a
book called, “The prodigal women. ” And we read that book and we
were astounded that he would do this.
Well, this was part of the whole thing about being at the Annex. It
was the people who were there. The people working together. And I want to say what impressed
me the most from the very first day I went to work where the people who
were the warrant officers and petty officers who helped me.
And it was through them that I understood what being — what being part of the core
really meant. They were wonderful. I am glad to have a
chance to thank the yeoman efforts of all my colleagues.
It was a wonderful opportunity to meet these wonderful people
and to feel that we were a part of a greater human family around
the world. Thank you very much. (Applause) KAREN LLOYD: Thank you, Mrs.
Embry for sharing with us what life was like for you in the
military and giving us a first-hand peek into wartime
Washington because so many of the “Code Girls” are no longer
with us. We thought it would be fitting to have someone to speak
with from the perspective of a “Code Girl’s” loved one. I am
thrilled to have you fill in that role for us, none other than
William Nye, all know — also known as
Bill Nye, the science Guy. (Applause) Bill Nye is an American science
educator, engineer, comedian, TV presenter, author, and inventor
with a mission to help people foster a scientifically literate
society and to help people everywhere understand and
appreciate the science that makes our world work. Making
science entertaining and accessible is something that
Bill has had a passion and has had a passion about his entire
life. His mother, Jacqueline Jenkins
Nye was a “Code Girl” and a member of the US Navy WAVES.
She understandably left a huge impression on Bill and his
siblings. JoinMe and welcome to the podium, Bill Nye, the
science Guy. (Applause) BILL NYE: Thank you. Thank you
indeed. Ladies and gentlemen, service
members and especially “Code Girls” — I am sorry, you guys — I
know I am among friends, I think. Are there any enemies
here? (Laughter)
I will be honest. I am not objective about it. Women’s
History Month is a wonderful celebration. My
great-grandmother marched in the suffragette parade on the third
of March 1913 right here in Washington, DC. 65 years later, my mother
marched in the Equal Rights Amendment parade. My many friends of my beloved
sister in in the women’s parade do years ago and I cannot help,
but feel honored to address you today. Jackie Jenkins , boy, I am you guys. I am not
that sorry. (Laughter) She was I heck of a lady.
Jackie Jenkins, later known as my mother, was a naval officer.
Her many contributions to winning the war are very
well-known, of course. Actually, I getting. Nobody
knows what she did! (Laughter) Nobody has any idea, perhaps
least of all people like me, or
members of my family. Peoples of my mother’s age, by
talking during cocktail parties and talking between their dances
during big band shows and through my whole life from when I was a little kid crawling
over people’s she at one of those cocktail parties, or as an
adult observing other older adults who were sitting for a change around a dinner table,
whenever someone asked and said hey what did you do during the
war, Jackie? She would laugh and say, “I
can’t talk about it. I can’t talk about it.” A few of you
hear mate remember the reunion party the Navy through
at Fort Myers in 1992, 50 years, 50
freaking years after she and her fellow officers were recruited.
And that morning and afternoon once again these women were
asked, people like my nephew asked, “Hey, what did you do
during the war? What did you do from 0800 to 1600 to and round again
during the war years, during that first thing known as a dog watch?” “I
can’t talk about it.” They absolutely would not talk about.
There are certain regular English words that they would
not use because somehow the word, “Overlap” —
did I say the wrong word — it is somehow used and code
breaking. It is generally agreed that decrypting the Nazi big-name a
code shorten the war by a year and a half. And may have
shortened the warp in the Pacific theater by twice that
long and they accomplish their mission in large part because
they took their duty and their oath so seriously and we
owe the “Code Girls” so much. Thank you all very much indeed. It is not long — my mother and
colleagues, while they were breaking codes, my father had the
misfortune to become a prisoner of war,
captured from the tiny atoll called Wake Island in the
Pacific Ocean. If you get a chance to be a prisoner of war,
I wouldn’t do it. (Laughter)
I would let it go. He managed to survive though all
the hardships and captivity and he returned and married my mom in December
of 1945. They raised three of us and them I’m mom went back to
work full at the beginning of the modern women’s rights
movement. This was before the disco era.
I remember very clearly a phone conversation she had with some
account executive from the American Express Company. She
slammed the phone down. And she used the D-word Damn was
a risky usage for a woman those days. She was furious because
she was told that she would not be allowed to have her own
credit card because she was Mrs. Nye after all and not worthy of
credit on her own and this even after she earned her Master
degree. Mom went on to get her doctorate
at George, Washington University and she kept winning ballroom dance
competitions. The irony is ballroom dancing is
fun. So here I am getting choked up
and I apologize, but she was a very accomplished ballroom
dancer and she danced until almost the day she died several
years ago. And she and my father, their
ashes are both at Arlington National Cemetery. I hope we
all celebrate the service of these women as part of our
nation’s effort to form a more perfect union. As a consequence of the war
effort, women of this greatest generation were empowered like no generation
before them with their dedication and especially their intellect, the allies were
able to resolve a global crisis. We really cannot thank them
enough. And today I cannot help, but
feel that the “Code Girls” were part of the larger story of the
United States. They faced a worldwide crisis
and they resolved it and as a son of Lieutenant Jenkins and later Doctor Jenkins
Nye, she hyphenated her name. I believe strongly in using our
intellect and treasure to resolve our global challenges
facing us today. The framers of the Constitution of the United States, which had become
a model for constitutional governments everywhere includes, included,
and still includes, article one, Section
8, clause eight, which refers to promoting the progress of
science and useful arts. It is in the Constitution,
people, is intent is to motivate innovators and drive the economy
by means of just laws. They knew that without the progress
of science and the useful arts of engineering, our economy
would falter and this was in the 18th century. Without
scientifically literate citizens, the United States, any
country impact cannot compete on the
world stage economically, let alone compete during a time of
war. We must all take if few moments
today to thank the women, the “Code Girls” for their service
and think about their legacy . This is a feature — excuse
me — I wonder how many of those
documents documents — again, we must
almost take a few minutes, the thank the women, the “Code
Girls” for their service and think about their legacy. If
they can resolve a global work, a global warming in just five
years, we certainly can provide clean water, renewable
electricity, and access to global electronic information to
people everywhere to address the violence, extreme poverty, and
climate change, we can and we must change the standard of
living of women and girls around the world. In the spirit of our code
breakers , we can do it. I know we can.
Because we can see what these women did, their legacy inspires
us all. Thank you very much. (Applause) KAREN LLOYD: I hope you
will agree with me that Bill Nye did an amazing job representing
the “Code Girls'” loved ones here today. Thank you. And
thank you all for sharing the memories of your mom with us. BILL NYE: She was something
else!. (Applause) KAREN LLOYD: And so are you. BILL NYE: This is her picture.
She was three dimensional. (Laughter) KAREN LLOYD: Like all the
“Code Girls” here and represented your mom was a
brilliant changemaker and we are so grateful for her service.
Now I would like to ask my team come up and share these
certificates. Please note that we have done our best job took
up — to prepare certificates for every “Code Girl” that we
were told will be represented here today. If you are here and your “Code
Girl’s” name is not called, please stop
by the check in after the event and provide our staff your “Code Girl’s” name as
well as your name and mailing address and we will make sure
that we get a certificate to you as soon as possible.
Please follow the instructions of the ushers that
are here to help so we can do this in a reasonably
orderly way. »: So Caryn, she is going to
present the certificates do you. Caryn, step a little closer to
the center. So we are going to have one row
at a time to stand. It may be a little harder — so
okay,, Nancy Thomas Tipton.
(Applause) Suzanne Embree.
(Applause) Marjorie Seder.
(Applause) Catherine Fleming.
(Applause) Betty Robards.
(Applause) Mr. Marion Ada Kaeser Conkey on
behalf of Hariett Wilcox Conkey. Joseph Barry on behalf of Carrie
Berry. James Bruce on behalf of our
beloved Dorothy, Dot, Braden Bruce.
(Applause) Sarah Cassidy on behalf of
Evelyn Boyette White. (Applause) Merit Chesley on behalf of Caroline Johnson Kinard. Charles bark — Charles Clark on behalf of
Cynthia Hyde Landry Clark. (Applause) And Browning on behalf of=tran8 Agnes fortune on behalf of
Frances Elizabeth Fortune. Jane Gleason on behalf of Marion
Ada Kaeser. (Applause) Mary Harrison on behalf of
Gloria Tipleman. (Applause) William James Carson on behalf
of Lyla Alene Howard. (Applause) Karen Johnson on behalf of Anna May Barrett.
(Applause) Karen Jones on behalf of Ruby
Rowlands. Esther on behalf of Martha
Kevorkian. (Applause) Julian Longley on behalf of
Helen Kent Longley. (Applause) Stephanie Lowenhowt on behalf of Jean
Martin. (Applause) Janice McKelvey on behalf of
Sarah, Virginia Dalton. (Applause) Caroline Montague on behalf of
Louise Alan. (Applause) William Bill Nye on behalf of
Jacqueline Jenkins Nye. (Applause) Ashley Page on behalf of Mary
Virginia Turner. (Applause) Paul Rockwell on behalf of
Bertha Uber Leese. (Applause) Mary Sarah topless on behalf of Jean
Ann Gordon. (Applause) Tom stitcher on behalf of
Margaret Vivian Branam-Stitcher.
(Applause) Sally Sims Stokes on behalf of
Jean Ashby Sims. (Applause) Karen Vervirca on behalf of Ruth
Vervirca. (Applause) Elizebeth Stewart Weber on
behalf of Elizebeth Bigelow Stewart.
(Applause) Judy Weinstein on behalf of Jane
switch her. (Applause) Caroline Wells on behalf of Anne Maxwell Painter.
(Applause) Thomas Ruble Wilson on behalf of
MaryJane Wilson. (Applause) Cathleen on behalf of Betty Ruth
Stein Coyne. (Applause) And finally, Carol Milton Muda
on behalf of Dorothy may Milton. (Applause) And can we have one round of
applause for all of our “Code Girls” today.
(Applause) KAREN LLOYD: This is where
the veterans history Project gets a little bit greedy and if
there are any family representatives here who would
like, whose “Code Girls” was a uniformed member of the military
and who have brought any collections with them of
original materials, we would like to have a bit of a donation
ceremony, if you have any. I understood there might be
some. »: If the family members
who brought the materials would please stand and come forward
now so you can formally present them to the Veterans History
Project. We will place them in here for the donation. »: I cannot thank you
enough. BILL NYE: Thank my mom.
(Laughter) »: I used to deliver the
Washington Post, you, guys. I am a senator’s fan. So here is her admission papers.
Here are some letters. I don’t think you are allowed to look at
those. (Laughter) And memorandum of information
and all sorts of things. »: Thank you, Bill . .
(Laughter) »: Yes, I was in the
military. (Laughter) On behalf of a grateful nation,
thank you, so much. (Applause) On behalf of a grateful
nation, thank you, so much for choosing to donate this.
(Applause) KAREN LLOYD: I want to
thank those family so much. I understand how hard it is
sometimes to give up those original documents. But as you
heard from Liza, really does pay forward so I want to thank each
of you. (Applause) If you are here or watching
online and have US military veterans in your life, living or
deceased, no matter what the gender, branch of service, or
military assignment, consider donating your collection to the
Veterans History Project. For those of you who are here,
you can stop by the check-in desk and get a field kit and it
tells you everything you need to know to include all of those
government papers that you have to fill out. But for those of
you that are watching online, you can download it from our website, loc.gov/vets. That way
you can ensure that your loved one’s story will be preserved
safely at the nation’s library never to be lost or forgotten.
You have to have a commercial, right folks? As we bring this reunion to a
close, I again would like to thank each of you for joining us
today as we honored some amazing changemakers who led the way for
women. The “Code Girls” of World War II, let’s give them a
great round of applause. (Applause) Two our guest speakers, Liza
Mundy, Nancy Thomas Tipton, Suzanne Embree, Bill Nye, thank
you for giving us an even deeper sense of awareness surrounding
the important work of the “Code Girls” and the major
contributions they made to the course of the war, technology,
code breaking, and what is now known as cyber security. We
pledge to make sure their stories are never again, at risk
of being lost to history. I need to thank the library
staff, especially can Crawford, Cheryl Kennedy, Laura Turner, and Ken why for
making all the extra efforts they did to make it go as
smoothly as it has. Last, but certainly not least, a big thank
you to the Veterans History Project team led by Lisa Taylor
who proved to me today she is qualified to herd cats.
(Laughter) (Applause) I want to thank Lisa for taking
an idea and making it a reality. For those of you who made
reservations to take the guided tour of the
Jefferson building, please get your ticket from your family representatives and
meet near the check-in desk at 2:30 and for everyone else,
please have a wonderful afternoon and site travels home
and again, thank you. (Applause)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *