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Sarasota Sunday, Jun. 23, 2019 2 years ago

Our Precious Freedoms: Amy Schlaf

Female World War II civilian found freedom through bombs and bazookas.
by: Samantha Chaney Staff Writer

Amy Schlaf, 95,  can no longer remember which years, in specific, she aided the military's ability to secure ammunition during World War II. What she does remember, however, is the pride with which she aided war efforts for three solid years. Initially, Schlaf says she joined the Green River Ordnance Plant in Lee County, Ill., for the available wages. After all, to earn $24 a week as a woman, she says, was no small feat. But as the war progressed, so too, did the sense of freedom and purpose she found in her job.

"I worked in an ordnance plant where we made 1,600-pound bombs and bazooka rockets, which were in the Army’s hands within 48 hours … I was responsible for how we got the supplies to make the product, and that we got it out in so many days."

"We felt good, because we were actually shipping stuff out to the soldiers so they could use it. You felt that you were really doing a job for our country."

"I felt that I was a real contributor to the war. My father was not in the service because he had a medical problem, but I felt that I was doing our family’s job for our country. It was fascinating."

"I was an only child. And when I graduated from high school, I worked at the library, and then I got this job with the ordnance. And I felt I was doing my share of helping our country and helping the whole nation, you know, and the whole world, really. Because we were making ammunition … and it made you feel good."

"I felt that, when you see how these other countries were invaded and taken over — and we were number one, we took care of ourselves and took care of other countries — it made you feel really good. Here you were, just a little person, but you worked to make a whole thing … We were a little part, but we were actually making a big thing."

"As a woman in World War II, we could do things that men would never have thought we could do and they accepted it. They didn’t object to it. And it was a different attitude. Today, we’re recognized — as a woman — in ways that we were not before."

"Because I worked for the country and I feel today, because I did that, we as women are respected. And we could do anything. Before, men thought, ‘No. You’re a woman.’"

"It's important that I can make my own decisions and nobody is going to say, “No, you can’t do that.’ As a woman, they’re letting us do things that, years before, they thought we weren’t smart enough for."

"I think during the war when I worked, I was respected more for what I thought and what I believed in. When we had to take men’s places, they started thinking, ‘Oh! Well, they’re smarter than we thought.’"

"And today, we have the right to buy a house and do the financing and nobody questions it. As a woman today, we can do anything. What we want. We can say ‘no.’"

"We are a special country in the world and we always help other countries and other parts of our nation."

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