Grandmother Jeanette Flaningan This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     My grandmother Jeanette doesn’t wearanything with the flag on it is because she feels it is unpatriotic anddisrespectful. She remembers the days when people would try to dodgemilitary duty by going to Canada or claiming they had hurt themselves.But not Jeanette, who donated two whole years to serving hercountry.

When she was 10 years old, the Great Depression was atits peak. My grandmother, or Nana as we call her, remembers it vividly.She recalls when her family had no income. Her father worked at theUniversity of Illinois, but there was a time when the university stoppedissuing paychecks, although they still required employees to work. Thisaffected her entire town of Champaign. Since most people were employedby the university, they had to live off credit to buy groceries, gas andother necessities.

Nana told me that they all believed theDepression would end, and eventually it did. My great grandfather thenstarted getting paid again. Nana says that living through the GreatDepression made her realize she can survive very difficult times.Furthermore, she realized how important it is to save money. She iscautious about spending, and only buys what she reallyneeds.

Nana is very patriotic. She finished college one semesterearly so she could join the WAVES* (Women Accepted for VolunteerEmergency Service) in World War II. She said that was not somethingevery woman did, but she felt it was her duty to serve her country. Shehad just received a law degree, but was not yet a lawyer. Since she hada college degree and had enlisted, she was immediately made an officer.Her first assignment was in Washington, D.C. She worked in temporaryoffice buildings that are now the site of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.Her job was to make sure the Japanese weren’t intercepting codedmessages sent between American ships.

After a year she wastransferred to Key West, Florida where she helped Marines returning fromship duties. Nana says she learned that Americans can draw together andwork hard for a cause, and that they are willing to make sacrifices fortheir country.

My grandmother has seen the world changedramatically in her lifetime. Daily living has become much easier withall the modern conveniences (including microwaves, cell phones andcomputers), but she feels that there are downsides to theseconveniences, too. She says that learning how to use the many, manymachines is difficult for her. The pace of life is also much faster nowthan it was even 30 years ago.

She still practices all of thecommon courtesies she learned as a child, which she notices arevanishing from society. For example, "Please" and "Thankyou" are being replaced by "gimme this" or "I wantthat." Also, people are eating more than they used to. According toa woman who only has two small meals a day, the super-sized meals aresuper-sizing people!

September 11, 2001 brought our countrytogether again, similar to the days of World War II when Nana was ayoung woman. I will remember and learn from my grandmother’scourageous and patriotic example. She is a great role model for me andall of America, especially during this war on terror. I love her so muchand am proud to be her and am proud to be her granddaughter.


*EDITOR’S NOTE: While secretarial andclerical jobs took a large number of WAVES, thousands performedpreviously atypical duties in the aviation community, JAG, medicalprofessions, communications, intelligence, science and technology. Atthe end of the war, there were over 8,000 female officers and ten timesthat many enlisted WAVES. In some places WAVES constituted a majority ofthe uniformed Naval personnel. From history.navy.mil

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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