When 98 year-old Staff Sgt. Millie Dunn Veasey walked into Yeadon Borough’s third annual Veteran’s Appreciation Luncheon on Saturday, she received a prolonged standing ovation.
Veasey traveled from her home in Raleigh, North Carolina to be the honored guest at the luncheon and expressed great appreciation.
“I have no prepared speech today,” she said. “But I am sure happy to be here.”
Veasey was born in Raleigh in 1918 and during World War II, served overseas with the Women’s Army Corps in the 6888th postal battalion; the first all-female, all-African-American military unit sent to a war zone.
Veasey said she saw an ad seeking female recruits, especially those with work experience. So, she figured she’d join.
Her family did not share her enthusiasm and encouraged her not to join the Army. She was demure, weighing less than 100 pounds and her family feared she would not be able to handle the rigorous training.
Even her brother, who was in the Army, did not believe she could pass the testing.
But Veasey proved them wrong.
She boarded a bus to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, passed the exam with flying colors, and was one of three women selected.
After returning home, she worked at St. Augustine’s College as executive secretary to President James Boyer. She became active in the civil rights movement, eventually serving as the first female president of the Raleigh-Wake NAACP.
“We first saw Staff Sgt. Veasey dancing with President Obama on television,” said Yeadon Council President Sharon Council-Harris. “We knew we wanted to bring her here to celebrate and are thrilled to have her with us today at our celebration. We honor and appreciate our military service men and women who sacrificed much for our country and honor them today.”
Opening remarks were presented by Yeadon Mayor Rohan Hepkins and a welcome speech was delivered by Councilwoman Learin Johnson, chairwoman of Community Relations and herself a veteran.
Earlier in the day, a flag pole was dedicated at the VA Navy Asylum section of the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Yeadon.
According to Eugene Hough, co-founder and monument education/preservation field specialist of the Saving Hallowed Ground Foundation, the flag pole had been missing for 30 years.
“This was the culmination of a four year project to have the flag pole replaced at the cemetery,” Hough said. “Unfortunately, this is not an isolated situation and we hope to engage all communities on the understanding and importance of this history.”
Hough said the foundation is working with Yeadon and Radnor High School students in a special project to research WWI veterans buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery.