On Thursday, March 1st and Friday, March 2nd, 7th grade teacher Janelle Beardsley visited the Women’s Memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery for the premier of the documentary, The Hello Girls, about the first women soldiers in the U.S. Army. There, she met the first female commander of the American Legion, Denise Rohan (pictured). Ms. Beardsley received an invitation to this event because, in 1979, she was among the women who first entered the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) branch of the Army, instead of the Women’s Army Corps. Janelle served overseas on active duty in the Federal Republic of Germany from ’80-’83. She has been a member of her town’s American Legion Post 16 in Shelton, CT for 12 years.
The documentary is about the women who served as bilingual French-English switch board operators during WWI, and whose service was essential to the allied war efforts. They also aided the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote in 1920. Upon returning from the war, the women were, sadly, denied veterans’ status and benefits. Finally, in 1979, they were finally recognized as legitimate Army Veterans. On the centennial of U.S. involvement in WWI, the documentary, and accompanying novel, shares their story.
Ms. Beardsley was proud to have attended the event and very happy to honor the women being depicted. “It is significant to me that the year that The Hello Girls women received their veterans status was the same year I graduated from college and became a commissioned officer in the Army.”