Presentation - The Journey of Mollie's War: WACs and WWII

Members of the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) were the first women other than nurses to serve overseas in World War II. Cyndee Schaffer’s mother, Mollie Weinstein Schaffer, was one of them. Drawing upon excerpts from Mollie’s letters written home during the war, this presentation provides a romantic, yet frightful, glimpse into the life of a woman in uniform during this crucial time in history. It details Mollie’s experiences from basic training in Florida in October 1943 to the dramatic moment when the Statue of Liberty came into view upon her return in November 1945. It traces the footsteps of the women who served in Europe, following Mollie and her fellow WACs who were stationed in London, England before D-Day and during the post D-Day German buzz bomb attacks. The WACs were transferred to Normandy, and then to Paris after its liberation by the Allies. After VE Day (Victory in Europe), they served in Versailles. Finally, they traveled to Frankfurt, Germany, as part of the Army of Occupation and witnessed firsthand the devastation of that country before returning to the United States. This presentation will invite contemplation of the vital and varied roles that women have fulfilled in the American military.

Cyndee’s presentation is divided into three parts–the role of women in the military, her mother’s experiences in WWII stationed in Europe and finally the writing adventure from working with her mother on her memoir and learning about the WACs to finding a traditional publisher. This is a first-person accounting of the role of women in the military in WWII stationed in Europe. Cyndee uses PowerPoint and two videos including a 9-minute WAC recruiting movie called “It’s Your War, Too” from 1943 in which her mother had two cameo appearances.

Cyndee engages the audience to discuss their experiences in the military or the experiences of their spouses/children/parents/grandparents. Everyone seems to have stories about the military and how it relates to their families. She is always amazed at how many people tell her that they are going home to work on their parents’ letters.

Program Topics

  • History
  • Women in the Military
  • World War II

Book this presentation by first scheduling a date with Cyndee via email or phone at 847.917.4125, then completing the Road Scholars Host Organization application.


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About Road Scholar Cyndee Schaffer

Cyndee Schaffer, published co-author of the award winning “Mollie’s War” and editor of the monthly Midwest Writers Association newsletter, collaborated with her 91-year-old mother writing a book based on the letters that her mother sent home to her family while serving as a WAC (Women’s Army Corps) stationed in Europe during WWII. Cyndee received a BS in math education from Northwestern University and a MS in curriculum development from DePaul University. Her work experience has taken her into three divergent careers: high school math teacher in the inner city of Chicago, IT consultant on the “human side” of computers–writing training materials and training users, and finally writing a book.

Using her mother’s letters, Cyndee takes you on a romantic and always frightful journey of an American WAC during the height of WWII. She discusses women in the military during WWII and in particular, her mother’s experiences as a member of the Women’s Army Corps by taking you on a journey from inspiration to publication.

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About Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Speakers Bureau

Since 1997, our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau has invited Illinois writers, storytellers, historians, folklorists, musicians, and living history actors, among others, to share their expertise and enthusiasm with people throughout our state. It also supports local nonprofit organizations – including libraries, museums, arts councils, historical societies, civic groups, and many others – in presenting free-admission cultural programs of high quality to their communities for a modest application fee, which can be waived if your organization is experiencing financial hardship.

Our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau roster features speakers hailing from many different communities across Illinois who offer presentations on topics in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, theater, film, music, politics, and other subjects that are thought-provoking and engaging. The breadth of these offerings reflects our conviction that the humanities can help us to examine the world in all its varied shades and discover in it the remarkable, the strange, the fantastic, the tragic, the humorous, and the beautiful.

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