Don’t mess with these ladies of the PLAV

October 18, 2010 § 2 Comments

Years after my grandmother passed away, I was going through old photographs she had tucked away and I became intrigued with a black/white image taken in Detroit in the early 1940s. It was a photo of my grandmother and three other ladies, all dressed in nurse-type uniforms layered with long black capes and matching caps. My grandmother was smiling, proudly holding the American flag. She and many women just like her, were members of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Polish Legion of American Veterans (PLAV). I guess that’s just what you did back then—the country was embroiled in the Second World War and many felt compelled to take part whether it be helping veterans or promoting Americanism. As I studied this photo I couldn’t help but appreciate this small determined-looking group as they were strongly united not only with their country during a very difficult time but also with their heritage.

I immediately showed the photo to my husband, pointing with pride to my grandmother, announcing to him as I tapped on the photo, “that’s my grandmother.” He looked at it for more than a few seconds and slowly said, “and that’s my grandmother,” and pointed to the lady holding the official PLAV banner, standing near my grandmother.

We were stunned but excited to discover that our grandmothers were part of the same organization some 70 years ago. I never met my husband’s grandmother and he never met mine, but we often wonder if they were good close friends or merely casual acquaintances during the war.

The bigger question is what they would have thought if they knew they would be united not only as proud Americans showcasing their patriotism that day, but also by two people they hadn’t met yet, one granddaughter and one grandson who were to be born a couple of decades later.

It’s a small world. Even now.

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