The month of March has been set aside as Women’s History Month, and what a month it is. An event held Friday at the Soldiers and Sailors home highlighted a group of women who were crucial when it came to communications during WWI.
David Belmondo has the story of the ‘Hello Girls’ and the contributions they made to the war effort.
The history of the ‘Hello Girls’ begins in late 1917, when General Pershing’s appeal for bilingual telephone switchboard operators was published in newspapers throughout the United States.
233 women enlisted, they joined the Army into the Signal Corps. They were the ones who carried the messages and connected the calls.
“They connected about 50,000 calls a day and, by the end of the war, it was like, 26 million total.”
The story of the women trailblazers was told to be retired US Army Major General Mari Eder.
These Hello Girls, trained by AT&T, were true trailblazers.
“I think we talk about trailblazers, we still see stories about the first, the first women to do this, to go into infantry. There have been trailblazers all along and we need to remember them and what they did in their service.”
There might even be a chance these Hello Girls had contact with some of our local soldiers.
Ken Vybiral of the Soldiers and Sailors Home says, “And to think that the WWI soldier that lived here, how they may have been impacted by the Hello Girls is neat and a significant connection to make as well”.
And, even though it was a day to honor the Hello Girls, Major General Elder says every day should be a day to honor all veterans.
“Many of your viewers will be veterans and will say, ‘I didn’t do anything important’. They raised their hands said, ‘I will defend. And they deserve to be remembered.'”