When I joined Sigma Kappa, I was a senior at MIT. I was in Air Force ROTC, so I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant just months after Initiation. Since the military moves people around a lot, I was able to participate in several different alumnae chapters throughout my career: Dayton, Northern VA, Europe, and several in the Los Angeles area – LASKA, Long Beach and Pomona Valley, for example – although I paid my dues through the South Bay Alumnae Chapter.
During my time in the South Bay Chapter, I met a wonderful Sigma Kappa veteran named Dorothy Rind. She joined the Sorority at the University of Montana where she graduated in 1940 with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy. After World War II broke out, Dorothy entered the Women’s Army Corps where she worked as a pharmacy officer, as well as a chemical warfare training officer. When the war came to an end, she was honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant.
When I met Dorothy, she was no longer working as a pharmacist, but was still very active in both Sigma Kappa and in the local Panhellenic Association. She was also an early supporter of the Women in Military Service To America Memorial, urging all women who served to register their names. During chapter events, she always sought out the military women in the chapter. We were eager to hear her stories, and she loved to hear ours. We were in awe that she was part of the “greatest generation” and she thought it was amazing that so many career options were open to military women these days.
It wasn’t until a few years after Dorothy’s death that I learned about the Veterans History Project (VHP). The United States Congress created the project in 2000, directing the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to collect, preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans for future generations. If I had realized that the project existed, I would have helped to add Dorothy’s story to the Library’s collection.
Today, there are over 100,000 collections in the VHP database, only 6,292 of which are from women. We can help to increase that number since there is now a VHP app for iPhone that makes it easier for us to interview a veteran – or a “Rosie the Riveter” – and submit the recording.
You can interview any veteran who served (but is no longer serving) in the United States military, in any capacity, regardless of branch or rank. Civilians who served in support of a United States war effort in a professional capacity also are welcome to participate.
Anybody can be the interviewer – from family members and friends of veterans to high school students in grade 10 or higher – like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts pursuing their Eagle or Gold awards. Sigma Kappa chapters looking to do a gerontology-related philanthropy project could contact a local retirement community or veterans’ service organization (DAV, VFW, American Legion, etc.) and ask about interviewing elderly veterans.
If you have done an interview before, or plan to do one, please let me know in the comments. If you’d like to do an interview, but you don’t know a veteran, I’d be happy to help you find a member of the Military Alumnae Chapter who would like to be interviewed.