Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cecile K. Bosworth: An Unsung Heroine!

     Reading the Obituary Page is not one of my daily pleasures, but by accident recently I happen to glance at an LA Times obit that caught my attention. It read: “Cecile K. Bosworth: Promoter of G.I. Bill and Armed Forces Day has died.” This caught my attention, because in a sense, my generation is  a product of the G.I. Bill.

     This one piece of far-sighted legislation has probably changed our society and culture more than anything else that has happened in the 20th Century. Perhaps only the Homestead Act that also came out of our American Civil War, another terrible conflict, would come close to the impact that the G.I. Bill has had on our nation.

     The Homestead Bill opened up farm ownership to millions of families and the G.I. Bill has enabled untold numbers of men and women to have a college education who under normal conditions would never be able to afford it. These newly educated Americans went on to become the doctors, the lawmakers, the educators and importantly the scientist who won the race to the moon. These men and women were able to earn more income and in turn they could afford to their children college. The majority of the second generation of G.I. Bill students now enjoys one of the highest standards of living in history.

     Born in Philadelphia, Cecile Bosworth moved to Hollywood with her family when she was a toddler. She attended UCLA and then worked as a film researcher. Her husband was Hobert Bosworth, silent screen actor and Paramount Studios co-founder. He was the star of the first full-length motion picture shot in Los Angeles.

     After she was widowed in 1943, she became the keeper of his early film props, diaries and other memorabilia and was an unofficial historian of motion pictures.

     But she was much better known for her civic activism and activities on behalf of servicemen.

     Bosworth established a club for servicemen shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, her volunteers offered coffee, sandwiches friendly smiles and even spare rooms or beds to servicemen on leave.

     Throughout the war, Bosworth worked with California congressmen to create what became know as the G.I. Bill of Rights to help servicemen step back into civilian life. The far-reaching legislation provided funds to finance college education and low-interest loans to purchase homes.

     In 1943, she proposed and lobbied for a joint resolution of Congress establishing an American Services Honor Day, which is now observed annually as Armed Forces Day.

     How many men and women do you personally know that have a better life today because of the G.I. Bill. How many families own their homes today because of the low interest Veterans Administration home loan program that the G.I. Bill set up. Personally the $125 per month plus tuition and books that I received years ago made a difference for me.

     Thank you Cecile! Even though, in my ignorance, I was never aware of what you did for me, I hope you were happy and enjoyed life. I know you made life much better for millions of veterans. It’s unfortunate that sometimes those who deserve it don’t get the recognition they deserve in their lifetime. 



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