by Beth Ann Koelsch
The first Women Veterans Historical Project Annual Women Veterans Luncheon in 1997 predated the founding of the Project in 1998. For over two decades the WVHP has brought women veterans and their supporters together to honor the service of women who served in the United States armed forces and the American Red Cross; to serve as an educational forum about women veterans; to engage the veteran community at UNCG and Greensboro; and to highlight the work of the WVHP and its ongoing oral history project.
COVID-19 made it impossible to gather in person this year. Instead, the 23rd Annual Women Veterans Luncheon moved online. Over 70 participants joined via the Zoom platform. After a few moments of technical difficulties, the participants saw videos created by the all-female Triad A Cappella Connection group featuring their vocal arrangements of the “Star Spangled Banner” and an Armed Forces Medley. Participants were welcomed virtually by the UNCG Chancellor Franklin Gilliam, Jr. and the Dean of the University Libraries Michael Crumpton.
As a way to bring the materials in the collections alive, SCUA staff, faculty, and veterans Barb Kucharczyk and Glenda Schillinger read aloud letters written by service women from World War II to the War on Terror.
The keynote speaker, Army Reserve Captain and the CEO of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) Deshauna Barber, discussed her work for SWAN and the organization’s current advocacy initiatives. She also tapped into her motivational speaker skills to offer the challenge to find inner resilience by finding “happiness in uncertainty.” Ms. Barber stayed to answer questions about SWAN’s current legislative priorities.
After the official program, participants were invited to join in on an informal conversation with the curator and each other.
Although no lunches were actually served, the program was a success! Hopefully, we can all meet again in person in 2021. You can watch a recording of the program here: https://youtu.be/y82bvCElfDE