My guest this past week on Wise Woman Storytime was Lily Adams. Her story begins when she is a young nursing student in the late 1960‘s and agrees to join the Army Nurse Corp with the commitment that she will NEVER be assigned to serve in Vietnam. The Pentagon reneged on this agreement and in 1969 this anti-war woman was serving in a war zone.
This is a story about a dedicated nurse who cared deeply for her patients despite her ideological differences with the war machine. While a story that begins over 4 decades ago, this country’s ongoing relationship to war and the erratic quality of care for our vets makes this story relevant today.
Unlike other returning soldiers and wartime personnel in previous wars who were met with parades and joyful festivities celebrating them and their service, Lily was met with an apathetic society and a hostile attitude. Warned not to wear her uniform in public, paled to the attitudes of the Veterans Organizations who shunned and distanced themselves from these war weary men and women.
Unwilling to sit idly by, Lily was part of a cadre of veterans who founded Vietnam Veterans of America who; worked tirelessly to ensue that Vietnam Vets would get the direct services they needed to deal with effects of PTSD; sought out researchers to study the effects of Agent Orange; found ways to support women veterans; wanted answers to where our POW’s were and what happened to those missing in action.
Today, keenly interested in environmental issues and still dedicated to anti-war policies and actions, Lily told us about the Living Peace Wall that was installed in downtown Sebastopol on October 6th. Located across from the town plaza, just west of the Rialto Cinemas the wall is dedicated to peace activists and those who have worked nonviolently for peace and justice.
Like many of us of us who find the mainstream media not asking probing questions and lacking in-depth and comprehensive coverage, Lily seeks her news and current events from the alternative media. Amy Goodman and Truthout are two of her favorite resources.
One of my main goals on Wise Woman Storytime is to highlight and put the spotlight on the extraordinary women who live among us – the women who we may pass on the street, say hello to as we enter or exit a store or very well may be our next door neighbors. I want to introduce you to these women, not only so that we get to know them and come to appreciate their stories, great gifts and wise woman wisdom, but perhaps even more importantly so that they become a mirror to ourselves, reminding us of our rich repertoire of stories, showing us our own potential and the endless possibilities that are available to us ,if we just shine that light inward and take a look within.
My guest this week on Wise Woman Storytime, Annie Murphy Springer epitomizes my vision for my show.
Annie has lived her life on her own terms for 70+ years now. She broke the glass ceiling in the 1950’s when she accepted a job as a civilian community liaison for the US Military in post war Germany. In the 1960’s Annie was hired by the city of Oakland to work with the city’s growing gang population with the goal of transforming these often intelligent and resourceful, yet illiterate and sometimes menacing men into leading more productive lives. And in the 1970’s Annie moved from the east bay to the town of Bodega in Sonoma County where she and her husband built their home – the very home that Annie resides in today. After becoming active in the Bodega Volunteer Fire Department and recognized for her community management skills, Annie was elected Fire Chief in 1979 and joined the ranks with the 2 other women fire chiefs at that time.
Still consulting, today Annie is a recognized artist specializing in watercolor. In 2012 she developed an educational video series called, “Wonders of Watercolor.” You can view these seven two minute video art lesson at over 300 PBS stations across the country. If you go to Anniespringer.com you can see a list of her upcoming classes, samples of her art work ,and information about the Artisans Co-op in Bodega where she and other artists offer demonstrations of their craft each weekend.
Annie has said, “I love to travel the route least familiar and most risky…….I welcome change and challenge, especially doing things I have never done before.” Annie still lives her dream and as she likes to say, “I aspire to inspire before I expire.” I think she is doing just that.