Normandy American Cemetery as Text
By Isabella Marie Garcia
for Dolores Browne
Sergeant of the U.S. Women’s Army Corps.
Drafted from Connecticut.
Gone on July 13th, 1945 and only 23, maybe 24, years old.
I know you served in the first and only all-female, all-black battalion of the Women’s Army Corps. Number 6888th. I know you’re one of only four women buried in this very ground as a result of your service. I know you were one of three black women killed in a Jeep accident in France and that your fellow comrades and gracious French citizens had to raise money in order to organize your funeral. I know you were the only one of those three women who died days later as a result of your injuries and that no other traces can be found of where you come from.
Who claims you?
That’s all I know of you.
The women of the 6888th Postal Directory Battalion, also known as the “Six Triple Eight,” went by one motto:
No mail, no morale.
They converted temporary post offices into demanding workstations, with several shifts of sorting through sky high piles of letters and packages in order to get mail to its proper owner. Even if there were 1,000 Robert or John Smiths fighting in Europe, they would find the exact man to hand a personal message to, never failing in fully delivering and completing their missions. Over 855 women served in the 6888th battalion of Women Army Corps, and 150,000 served in the Women Army Corps. Their conditions were rough, their sacrifices were great, and for the women of the only all-black battalion, they were never publicly recognized for their service at the end of the war.
I don’t know much. I don’t know who your mother is or where you went to school, if you loved coffee or smoked cigarettes. I don’t know if you owned a record player and would play the top hits with your best friends after school, I’m not sure if you had many friends or if you were a loner. I don’t know if you intended to marry or if you wanted to become a doctor.
I don’t know who you really are but I recognize you today.
What I can guess is that you went abroad with a fire burning through your veins to prove yourself. Not just your individual persona, but the color of you skin and the hearts of your fellow sisters. You have to prove your worth when you shouldn’t have to explain yourself to anyone. I’ve felt the need to prove myself but never to your extent.
I’ll never be in your shoes. I’m not black. I come from a Cuban family that fled to avoid persecution but the shade of my skin isn’t vulnerable in the eyes of the world.
I’m a woman but privilege is real.
I can’t relate to much of your life, but what I do relate to, I cling to, that urge to prove yourself only to fall into a trap. Nobody there at the end of the day to recognize all of your hard work. Nobody who believes in you, or at least you think doesn’t believe in you. You’ve felt all that and I have as well.
I don’t know the details of your life, Dolores, but the circumstances you lived in and what you represented have paved the way for women of color across all fields, making strides gradually but surely. You are one of four women in this cemetery, and that’s little, sure, but it’s never been about quantity.
As a young woman of your age, I thank you for what you’ve done and what you could’ve been. You are one of 150,000 women who gave themselves to us in order to be stronger, freer women.
I see you in the young girls who run freely without care.
I see you in the young black woman who fights gun violence and breaks her throat in protest.
I see you in the innocent black lives that are lost as a result of hatred and ignorance.
Young black women, ready to fight, not with guns, but with words and their crafts, I see you.
I see myself in you, Dolores, and for that, thank you.
Isabella Marie Garcia
EDITOR AND LAST UPDATE
John William Bailly 19 July 2019
COPYRIGHT © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED