BALTIMORE — December 7 is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. On this day 80 years ago, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii killing nearly 2,500 Americans. That was what triggered the United Stated to enter World War II, declaring war on Japan.
103-year-old Vivian Millie Bailey is a black World War II Veteran who served during a segregated time. She even served after the military.
Bailey grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she says, "you could draw a line between the white part of town and the negro part of town." Her experience in the Army was the same, except when she was at the Adjutant General School to become an officer.
"The commandant said there will be no segregation under my command, so he saw to it that we were not segregated there. Of course, that was short time," said Bailey.
There weren't very many women in her graduating class and only a few were black. She worked her way up to become a First Lieutenant and became the unit commander of the Women's Army Corps Detachment.
Bailey explained, "I don't know how they decided who goes into officer candidate school. It wasn’t anything you applied for so apparently the officials identified potential I guess?"
During World War II, Bailey was stationed in Alabama and Georgia.
"I met my husband the day that I got my commission April 10, 1943. He was a civilian then. He later got in the Army. He was commissioned as Second Lieutenant I had been promoted to First, so I pinned the Second Lieutenant bars on him," she said.
Bailey decided to get out of the military in 1946, but her passion for serving didn't stop there.
"In the late 60s, a group of us had what was called "Interracial Friends," and we used to every year try to do something for somebody get things for nursing homes," explained Bailey. "This Christmas we wanted to do something for soldiers."
They started with just 17 boxes of toiletries then during Desert Storm she sent homemade cookies to soldiers.
"Then when Iraq started, I started sending packages again I was doing it alone for a while and then other people joined me in that effort. I have been involved in sending care packages ever since."
It's evolved into Bailey's Bundles, care packages regularly sent to deployed soldiers.
"Soldiers say that care packages are their best moral builders because it lets them that their country men are appreciating them and our supporting them," said Bailey.
She continues to give back and that's what the majority of her awards are for, her contributions to the community. Her favorite award, the Howard County Police Department Making a Difference Award, which was renamed after her on her 100th birthday.
"I like that and hope it will inspire other people to do something to make a difference."
She's happy to be able to help others and is asking you to do the same, saying little acts of kindness go a long way.
"I’m very blessed that I am able to serve. I’m thankful that physically and financially I’ve been able to do things that might make like a little better for somebody else," said Bailey. "I would like to encourage everybody to try to do something every day for somebody else and also to try and to think of the good things that are going on in your life, rejoice about those! Be thankful about them!"
Bailey is turning 104 in February. She's accomplished quite a lot throughout her life and still wants to do more. She's received countless awards and went skydiving just this year!
If you'd like to help with Bailey's Bundles, you can donate to the American Legion Post 156. You can send money directly to their PayPal account, firstname.lastname@example.org or mail checks payable to American Legion Post 156 to PO Box 24`6 Ellicott City, MD 21041. Any contribution you make, just indicate it's for Bailey's Bundles.