The Hello Girls: The Story of America’s First Female Soldiers
Directed by James Theres
By the end of World War I, American female telephone operators, known affectionately as the Hello Girls, had connected over 26 million phone calls. They served with distinction, wore Army uniforms, were subject to military law, and swore Army oaths. Several received military awards and decorations. They also served during the occupation of Germany and the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. The last of the Hello Girls returned home in 1920, only to be told they were never soldiers. Led by Merle Egan from Helena, Montana, they fought the U.S. government for 60 years for recognition. In 1977, they won; unfortunately only 36 were still alive. Told through 100-year-old letters, photos, archival footage, and interviews with family and historians, the “Hello Girls” reveals the relatively unknown story of 223 American women who served overseas during WWI as telephone operators.
Producer Elizabeth Cobbs is scheduled to attend.
James William Theres is an award-winning public affairs officer and speechwriter at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington D.C. He has received 10 national awards for speech writing, feature writing, event planning and media affairs. James has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and an MA in History from Jackson State University. James came to film making later in life as a way to tell American stories with an emphasis on American military and veteran-themed films. His first film, “The 30th of May” was based on his graduate research project of the same name about a 150-year-old African American Memorial Day parade and tradition taking place in the Deep South towns of Natchez, Mississippi and Vidalia, Louisiana. The paper received the prestigious Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander Award at the 10th Annual Creative Arts Festival at Jackson State University and earned 25 film awards while also appearing on Mississippi Public Television in May 2017. The “30th of May” was an “Official Selection” at the 2017 GI Film Festival held in Washington, D.C.
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