The name Emma Didlake may not be one that you readily recognize, but it’s definitely one you should know. It was 1943 when Didlake – then a 38-year-old wife and mother – decided to join the Women’s Auxiliary Corp (WAC) of the U.S. military. She was an Army private and driver for nearly a year during WWII. Didlake could very well be the first documented #CarefreeBlackGirl because that’s some really gangsta stuff to do!
During her time of service Didlake was awarded the Women’s Army Corps Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal. Now at the age of 110, Didlake recently received another well-deserved honor: Meeting with President Obama at the White House.
“We are so grateful that she is here with us today,” said President Obama in his remarks from their meeting last week. “And it’s a great reminder of not only the sacrifices that the Greatest Generation made on our behalf, but also the kind of trailblazing that our women veterans made, African American veterans who helped to integrate our Armed Services. We are very, very proud of them. That’s why we got to make sure we do right by them.”
“I didn’t know I was breaking barriers,” said Didlake. “But I enjoyed doing what I was doing because I had committed myself to do just this.”
After her discharge from the army, Didlake became active with the Detroit NAACP chapter, where she lived with her family. Two years ago, the chapter awarded her a lifetime achievement award.
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Didlake, who was born in 1905 in Boligee, Alabama, credits avoiding meat and eating fruits and vegetables as some of the many things that keep her healthy and still active. Meeting people and a love of reading also help to keep her mind sharp.
Though hard of hearing, Didlake is healthy, taking one pill a day for diabetes and eye drops for glaucoma. She tires easily but has a good memory and can hold a conversation.
Didlake credits her good health to living in moderation and not smoking, but there’s also a ritual. Each evening, the lady who eight grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren call “Big Mama” soaks nine golden raisins in a pint of vodka and lets them sit overnight.
She eats them the next afternoon.
President Obama is in good company, I’m sure!