On September 7, 2016, Elaine Danforth Harmon was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery almost 18 months after she had passed away. During that time, her family had to fight back against an Army regulation denying her and the other women of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) eligibility at these hallowed grounds just outside Washington, DC. Her granddaughter Erin Miller led the family's campaign alongside her sisters Tiffany and Whitney and their mother, Terry, to bring this injustice to the public. With a petition at change.org/wasp which received over 178,000 signatures, dozens of news interviews, blog posts, and op-eds, the world learned once again how the WASP served our nation in WWII. Congresswoman Martha McSally (AZ-2), who introduced legislation HR 4336 with Rep. Susan Davis (CA) in the House and Senators Barbara Mikulski (MD) and Joni Ernst (IA) introduced a Senate bill. HR 4336 amended the law from 1977 which granted retroactive veterans status to the WASP and other groups from WWII. Under the leadership of Congresswoman McSally, the House bill was passed unanimously in both chambers of Congress and signed into law by President Obama on May 20, 2016.
This is a video of the beautiful and moving services in tribute to my grandmother and the WASP. Our family was honored at all the guests who came to pay their respects. Three WASP, one member of the Tuskegee airmen, Representative Martha McSally, Senator Joni Ernst, Under Secretary of the Air Force Lisa Disbrow, many current and former military service members, and Greta Van Susteren, whose publicity back in January on her television program helped boost support for this day to be possible.
Erin is writing a book about this experience and life with her grandmother. See:
Erin Miller, Esq.