By Deb McDermott
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on Friday brought Margo Harrington a wonderful birthday present: a Senate resolution passed just the day before on Harrington's 96th birthday, honoring her for her service in World War II as a volunteer with the American Red Cross Clubmobiles.
Shaheen said the story of Harrington and other female volunteers has for too long gone unheralded. Harrington served in both England and other parts of Europe, driving a Clubmobile - a truck that traveled to the front lines where she and other women offered troops fresh coffee and homemade doughnuts.
"I hope you have written this down," Shaheen said to Harrington at her Rye home after Harrington shared the story of her work.
"This is part of history that needs to be remembered. It's way past time we recognize your service and that of the many other women who served with you."
A very alert and well-spoken Harrington replied, "I'm absolutely nonplussed by all this."
As the senator asked questions, Harrington's story unfolded -- a story, she was quick to say, that was not only hers but which belonged to hundreds of women across America.
The women actually made doughnuts by hand each morning before getting inside a Clubmobile truck and going to the front lines to serve not only homemade food but an extra helping of hometown voices for the troops. Her work took her to the European continent less than a month after D-Day. She recalled for Shaheen driving a Clubmobile off a troop ship, down a plank, into the water and onto Omaha Beach.
"It was kind of nerve-racking," she said with a laugh.
Shaheen said she heard that Harrington had three brothers, "and the story is you got a lot closer to the front than any of your brothers."
Harrington conceded that was probably true.
Harrington told Shaheen she was in Europe for the duration of the war, heading north, eventually, into Belgium and Holland with the troops.
Her daughter, Melissa Leavy, brought out Harrington's Red Cross jacket, with the patches of all the troops she'd served on the inside.
"I couldn't put anything outside to indicate we were near those troops."
Shaheen wasn't the only one visiting Harrington's home Friday. Also there were Scott Jacoby, a New Hampshire American Red Cross board member, and Lisa Michaud, N.H. ARC external affairs officer.
Harrington also received a plaque from the Red Cross for her "courage and tireless service as an American Red Cross volunteer."
Leavy, who said she grew up listening to her mother's stories, added the Senate resolution is not just for her mother, but also for her mother's colleagues.
"I'm hoping that the families of the women who also served will come forward, because this resolution is for all of them."