By Jennifer Martin - email
Margaret Braswell was barely out of high school when she became a clerk in the office of Chief Navel Operations in 1944. She left her home in Kosciusko and moved to the nation's capitol.
She spent all her free time, volunteering at Walter Reed Army Hospital.
"I was real sad when I saw these young men with their arms off, their legs off, some people had their arms and their legs off. And so far from home. And their parents couldn't come and girlfriends couldn't come and the least we could do was sacrifice what little we could do to cheer them up," Braswell said.
"We used to go to the bakery and we didn't have much money so we'd go to the bakery and buy a big cake and at that time they had the little nickel containers of ice cream that the hospital would furnish so we'd have cake and ice cream and laugh and cut up with them," said Braswell.
"I felt like I made a big difference. We'd take'em down in the wheelchairs, run down the corridors, push em out on the trees. There'd be a lot of them out there and as soon as we got em out, we'd have to start running up the stairs to get them back to their wards. But it was real wonderful, wonderful, to see a beam in their eyes," Braswell added.
She spent about two years in Washington D.C., then returned to Mississippi, where she got married, and had three children.
In the 1970's, she moved to Houston, where she worked for the U.S. Treasury Department and served as a supervisor for the city's Bicentennial Celebration.
She never stopped volunteering, even after she returned to Mississippi and retired.
"I think people don't know how much they're missing when they say they don't have anything to do. There are people in the VA here that have no families. And you can get in your car and go out there and sit with them for a little while or push 'em down to the little store or take 'em out in the sunshine or just tell 'em you love them and you're thinking about them. And I think everyone should do that if they possibly can," Braswell said.
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