Freedom Is Never More Than One Generation Away From Extinction

Ladies in Pearls in memory of Barbara Bush: Ann Abrams, Dolly Mannix, Catherine Colgan, Evelyn Edge, Nancy Lechler, Shirley Darnauer, Sharon Joyner, Pam Gordon, Belinda Dexter, Laurel Rohlfs

At their monthly lunch meeting at the beautiful Princess Anne Country Club, the Virginia Beach Republican Women’s Club honored four outstanding young scholars for the essays they submitted on the meaning of the American flag. The four students each received a $500 scholarship towards the institution of higher learning they choose to attend in the fall.

All four were high school seniors. One young lady from Bayside High School will attend Virginia Commonwealth University, another from Tallwood High School plans to go to Tidewater Community College, a third from Ocean Lakes High School will attend Notre Dame, and a young man will enroll at Georgetown in the fall.

The speeches varied in style but all centered around the same ideals of unity, sacrifice, and freedom. Immediate Past President Pam Gordon read the impressive resumes of each student before they shared their award-winning speeches.

All four students were flanked by their parents who took off from work to attend the recognition ceremony. The immense pride and joy shown in the faces of the parents when each of their children stood up and spoke was truly heartwarming. One mother even shed tears of joy as she listened to her daughter talk about laying flags on the graves of fallen soldiers on Memorial Day.

Immediate Past President of the Virginia Beach Republican Women’s Club Pam Gordon with students.

The event closed with Pam Gordon reading a letter from Dame Mary Barraco, a longtime member of the Virginia Beach Republican Women who, for the first time, could not make the event due to health.  It has been an event she never missed because she took special pride in touching the lives of the young people receiving this great honor.

Dame Mary was a Liaison Officer between the First Canadian Army and the Belgian Resistance during World War II. An American who moved as a child to Belgium where her grandparents lived, she became a leader in the Resistance and worked vigorously to save Jewish children from the Nazis.  She fell in love with a French soldier named Arthur Libre — “Libre means Freedom in French” — and was soon after captured by the Nazis. Arthur was executed. Mary Barraco was interrogated and tortured; the Nazis broke her nose, teeth, vertebrae, and she was sterilized so she could never bear children.  In December 1943 she was released from a Nazi prison camp and soon returned to aid the Resistance.

Dame Mary Barraco is known throughout the world for her love of freedom and her persistence in teaching younger generations the importance of remaining vigilant against those wishing to take that freedom away.

For decades Dame Mary Barraco and the Virginia Beach Republican Women have given scholarships annually to high school students throughout Virginia Beach. This generous act of kindness not only helps students and their families pay for the ever growing expenses of education but it also encourages young people to dig deep into why we hold the American flag in such high regard.

This scholarship program does a tremendous service in being a positive outreach program to engage young people with the Republican Party.

One of the scholarship’s past recipients was a young Green Run High School student who went to work for then-Delegate Frank Wagner, and now serves in the Virginia House of Delegates. His name is Glenn Davis.

Ronald Reagan famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We do not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

The fight for freedom is one that is unending. May God bless Dame Mary Barraco and the ladies of the Virginia Beach Republican Women for doing their part to preserve our freedom.

“What We Carry: The Story of Mary Barraco”….