Sisters attended dedication of memorial to women in military service

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 10/28/97.

Evelyn Bruntlett, Paynesville, and her sister Myrtle Atchison, Bethel, flew to Washington, D.C., to attend the dedication of a $21.5 million memorial, honoring women who had served in the military.

The two sisters, along with a third sister, Alice Foster, Reno, Nev., all joined the Navy in 1944. ďWe all left right before Christmas,Ē Bruntlett said. They also had a brother who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II.

ďThere was a war going on and we felt we were needed,Ē Bruntlett said. ďWe all had good jobs, but when I reached 20, we enlisted.Ē She explained a woman needed to be 20 years old before she could enlist at that time.

Bruntlett is a member of the Granite City Waves. During their 55th anniversary celebration, marking the founding of the Waves, Bruntlett won the grand prize, a trip for two to attend the memorial dedication, Oct. 17-19.

ďAfter 53 years, it was a little hard to go back in time,Ē she said. Even though she and her sisters served stateside, World War II carries a lot of memories for the women who served. ďWomen of all ages were in attendance at the reunion,Ē Bruntlett added. The oldest in attendance were 101 and 96.

The dedication for the memorial took place Saturday afternoon, Oct. 18. Seating for the event started at 9 a.m. ďWe had good seats,Ē Bruntlett said. The memorial is located at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery.

Under cloudy skies, government and military leaders saluted the women who served in the military. ďFrieda Hardin, 101-year-old, gave a very moving speech,Ē Bruntlett said. ďShe would put a lot of women to shame with her enthusiasm and commitment.Ē

Vice-president Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, were on hand to help cut the ribbon at the memorial. Bruntlett said women pilots were to fly over in tribute, but due to the weather werenít able to.
That evening a candlelight march and service of remembrance was held. The march started at the Lincoln Memorial and ended at the womenís memorial. ďIt was an impressive sight. They provided us with battery powered candles to carry,Ē she added. Guest speaker at the candlelight service was Janet Reno, U.S. Attorney General.

Since her sister had two daughters who are nurses serving in the Navy, the two women attended a dedication to the military nurses on Sunday noon. Former Senator Bob Dole spoke on how the nurses took care of him when he was wounded during World War II.

ďUp until now, women in the service were downplayed. They went in to do their jobs but were never given much recognition,Ē Bruntlett said. ďMy sisters and I were very lucky as we never had to leave the U.S., but many went overseas to tend to the soldiers as nurses or help with office work.Ē

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