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	“We have a 48-star internment flag hung in the exhibit,” Nancy said of the American flag from the World War II era. “It’s in memory of the women who didn’t get a flag.”
	Deanie said she is proud that, thanks to a later act by Congress, her family will be able to drape her coffin with the American flag. “I served my country proudly, and I deserve no less,” she said.
	The inequalities were not just in death. WASP had to buy their own uniforms, at a cost of $100 – no small expense. According to the internet’s Inflation Calculator, $100 in 1943 would be equivalent to about $1,200 in today’s money.
	To enter the WASP, women had to have some flying experience; male pilot trainees had no such requirement and no doubt some had never before been in a plane.
	WASP often had to provide their own housing, if there were no nearby barracks for unmarried female nurses. If they washed out of training, they bought their own ticket home.
	At the time, the WASP accepted their lesser roles.
	“We didn’t feel like heroes,” Lucille Wise said. “We were just trying to do something to help the war effort.”
	Three decades after the war, when Congress decided to recognize the WASP, they were not present for any ceremony. Instead, they were sent medals in the mail.
	However, Deanie said she has a letter from former senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. In it, he writes of his admiration for the Women Airforce Service Pilots.
	Another former military man who admired the WASP was the late Baylor President and Chancellor, Herbert Reynolds.
	“Dr. Reynolds, who was chancellor at the time we began all this, really embraced us,” Nancy remembered. “He said he’d known a WASP when he was growing up. Dr. Reynolds was also an Air Force officer, and the fact these women had been under-appreciated and under-reported was upsetting to him.”
	Other Baylor officials and organizations have also helped, she said.
In 1999, the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority on Baylor’s campus adopted the project. The members helped by learning and recording the marching songs, and their voices may be heard on the website.
	Deanie explained that everywhere a group of WASP went, they marched – and sang. This helped keep morale up, and the songs were recorded to bring some audible authenticity to the website.
	Website visitors can also listen to the sounds of an airplane engine.
	“We’ve also had Baylor students help us as crew. Marketing students designed an ad campaign for us.”
	KWBU, the PBS station on campus, has also helped in various ways, and Nancy calls it their “mother station.”
	“(Baylor graduate) Ruth Helm and Sister Teresa were our first two WASP interviews,” Deanie said. “Their faith is extraordinary and their values are extraordinary.”
	Sister Teresa, whose name was Anita Paul before taking her vows, lives in a convent in the French Antilles. She traveled to Waco and was interviewed at the KWBU studio. She told not only of her WASP experiences, but how her faith had sustained her throughout the war and later life.
	Nancy believes the WASP have much to teach us.
	“They don’t just talk about serving our country – they did it,” she said. “They really did it, often with great sacrifice. The WASP really stand for honor, courage, valor, patriotism and faith.”
	Wings Across America depends upon donations in order to continue.
	“Raising the funds for an online vision is tough,” Nancy admitted. “Our digital video archive now holds over 300 hours of priceless footage. This information will not be completely usable until we raise the funding to complete the back end – transcribing the interviews, creating the individual pages of information, metadata coding and publishing.”
Nancy’s immediate plans include fundraising so the “Wings Across America’s Fly Girls of WWII” exhibit can travel to other museums across Texas and beyond.  She said such institutions as the Air Force Museum, Smithsonian Air & Space and the Air Force Academy Library have all expressed interest.
	“Ultimately, completing the design for the Wings Across America Virtual Museum and making the digital archive public is my goal,” Nancy said.
	Funds will also allow the Parrishes to continue traveling and interviewing WASP who are still waiting to tell their stories. Neither mother nor daughter receive a salary for their efforts, Deanie said, joking that she’s spending her children’s inheritance on it.
	“An oral history project is such an expense in both time and money,” Levine said. “But it’s so important to do it. The opportunity to do this is going to be gone very soon because these people are dying, and some are getting to where they don’t remember very much anymore.”
	The oral histories, museum exhibits and website are only part of the overall dream.
	Nancy wants to not only share this patriotic history with younger generations, but she also dreams of someday having a space camp-type of facility. She hopes it would interest children – girls as well as boys – in becoming aviators and/or astronauts themselves and help spread the “can-do” spirit of the WASP. She feels Waco would be the ideal location, since it is in the “crossroads of Texas.”
	“It has been an enriching experience (to document the WASP story),” Nancy said. “Their history is larger than life – it’s an inspiring history.”

Care to click?   http://www.wingsacrossamerica.org

On a Wing and a Prayer