Statehouse plaque honors US Cadet Nurse Corps

A plaque honoring the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps was dedicated at the Statehouse on July 6. Pictured are, seated, World War II cadet nurses Betty Beecher and Mary Maione; standing, from left, Leland Hussey, Gov. Charlie Baker, state Rep. Paul Tucker, Sen. Joan Lovely, Rep. Brad Hill, Sen. Bruce Tarr and Barbara Poremba, of Salem. 

BOSTON — A bronze plaque honoring the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps was dedicated in Nurses Hall at the Statehouse on July 6.  

The effort to install the plaque was led by Barbara Poremba and Leland Hussey, of Salem, representing the Friends of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps WWII, an advocacy group working to pass federal legislation to grant honorary veteran status to cadet nurses.

The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps was established in 1943 in response to a critical shortage of nurses and was active until 1948. About 124,000 young women served their country in World War II as cadet nurses — uniformed nurses assigned to live and work at military hospitals across the country, where they cared for seriously wounded soldiers returning from the war in Europe. More than 9,000 women trained and served in Massachusetts.

Last year, Massachusetts became the first state to pass legislation designating July 1 as U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Day. The legislation was supported by state Sens. Joan Lovely, of Salem, and Bruce Tarr, of Gloucester, and by state Reps. Paul Tucker, of Salem, and Brad Hill, of Ipswich.

Among those who attended the ceremony were Gov. Charlie Baker and Mary Maione, a 97-year-old former cadet nurse from Hamilton.

"I want you to know how much we appreciated the push you made to make this happen," Baker said at the ceremony. "And I really do hope that it turns out that a whole bunch of other states follow the lead that we set here and have an appropriate place to recognize and honor and speak of the gratitude and appreciation we have for those who carried such a big load for us at a very important time in our nation's history."

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