Ben is real.
Ben is real.
She is my husband’s grandmother. So yes, I have met her before, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to write about her on this Veteran’s Day.
Most of the time it’s easy for me to be cynical about this country. Deceitful politicians, materialism and selfishness tend to stay at the forefront of my mind, but one conversation with Daphne and I’m reminded why this country is great. She doesn’t talk about her service much, or all of the bad things she saw. She doesn’t talk about my generation as if it just rolled out of bed and wants a handout. She doesn’t harp on why the democratic or republican parties are insane, or why people who do not think like her are wrong.
What Daphne does is exude kindness, and strength, and humility. She is everything I want to be when I grow up.
Think about this. Daphne was born the year before women were given the right to vote. She was 6 years old when Hitler published Mein Kampf. She was 13 when scientists split the first atom and 14 when the first Nazi concentration camp was established. Daphne was 20 years old when the first commercial flight crossed the atlantic, and when World War II began. In 1942, the year Daphne would turn 23, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (which was not an official branch of the U.S. military until the following year, becoming the Women’s Army Corps). She was in the first group of women to ever serve this country as a part of the United States military.
Talk about strength. Daphne was a woman in the prime of her life when it was acceptable, if not expected, for women to follow the lead of men and find a husband to take care of. But, even though women were hardly considered equal to men, and even though she could not receive half the benefits of men in the U.S. military, and even though she had a man who’d asked her to marry him, she chose to serve this country. Daphne chose to show other women (and men) that we would make this country great by standing up for what we believed in and taking a chance, like the families who founded this country did many years before. She would do whatever it took to be the best woman God had created her to be, even if that meant losing her life.
When Daphne returned home from her service overseas, she married the man who’d asked and waited patiently for her “not now” to turn into a “yes”. She raised a wonderful family, has 3 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. On December 6th, she will turn 92 years old. She has watched the United States fight several wars and win, lose, or who knows, she’s still proud to call this country home. Daphne knows why the United States of America is great, above all the reasons why we’ve become jaded. She is not rolling in money, or wearing expensive clothes, or living in a castle. But Daphne is free, and she fought to preserve that for everyone who calls America home.
Daphne Smith is everything it means to be an American. Thank you grams, for showing us what that looks like.