Congressional Gold Medal for Hello Girls of World War I
The U.S. involvement in World War I had a major impact on the war effort and contributed significantly to the eventual victory. Most Americans know how the Doughboys fought the Germans in the trenches, but few have heard the story of the Hello Girls and the communication aid they provided. 

Military radios as we know them today were not yet in use, and commanders in the field had to use a telephone network system to communicate on the battlefield. These calls were transmitted through a cable and wire network, and routed through switchboards with human operators. At first, the switchboards were operated by French women who did not speak English, which caused confusion and minimal success. When English-speaking male soldiers were assigned the duties, the results were only marginally better. Finally, General John J. Pershing worked with the War Department to recruit French-speaking American women from Louisiana to work as telephone operators. Many of the women recruited were already experienced operators, and the rest were trained by AT&T. Soon, these women were off to France to keep the war communications humming along with American efficiency. They became known as the Hello Girls.

These women worked in forward areas and faced the same shelling, strafing, poison gas, and other dangers faced by the Doughboys. They were paid by the Army, and required to follow military protocol. Yet when the war ended, they were not recognized for their service. When they returned home, the Hello Girls were told that despite their oaths to the nation and compliance with orders, they were considered 'civilian contractors.' They were ignored for decades and forgotten by history. 

This year, The American Legion, along with numerous other groups, is advocating for a Congressional Gold Medal to be created to honor the brave work done by the Hello Girls. Senator Tester has introduced S.815 and Congressman Cleaver has introduced H.R. 1572. Both of these bills would create the Hello Girls Congressional Gold Medal Act. 

Please join The American Legion in calling for Congress to act and recognize the Hello Girls of World War I. Even though more than 100 years have passed, it is not too late to do the right thing! 



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