They were sworn into service, required to wear regulation uniforms and saw the horrors of war.
But when the Hello Girls returned home to the U.S. after World War I, they were largely forgotten.
Today is International Women’s Day, a global recognition of women’s achievements. We’re looking back more than 100 years to recognize the place in history of a group of 223 women.
In 1917, on the eve of World War I, the U.S. government drafted 2.8 million men into military service. The Army realized that its success would rely on the Allies’ use of a new technology: the telephone.
Enter the Hello Girls, a group of bilingual telephone operators selected for working the switchboards in France, connecting the front lines with supply depots and military command. They often handled over 150,000 calls per day.
But because they were women, the U.S. government denied them veteran status for more than 60 years after the war.
“The unfortunate reality is their service wasn’t officially recognized with veteran status until 1979 when a small fraction of those who served were still alive,” a senior curator at the National World War I Museum and Memorial said. “To achieve that point of hard won recognition took a monumental effort.”
“不幸的现实是，她们的贡献直到1979年才获得官方正式的承认，当时只有一小部分曾经服役的人还活着，”国立第一次世界大战博物馆(National World War I Museum and Memorial)的高级策展人说。“为了这个得之不易的认可，付出了巨大的努力。”