Anna Mac Clarke, Postscript
By John M. Trowbridge
Copyright 1997. John M. Trowbridge
Thursday, April 27, 1944, her hometown newspaper, The Anderson News, remembered Anna Mac with the following: "LT. ANNA MAE CLARK DEATH. Lt. Anna Mae Clark, colored, 24 years old of the Woman's Army Corps, died Wednesday, April 19, at an Army Tucson, Ariz. Lieutenant Clark had been in the service two years. She was a graduate of Kentucky State College for Negroes, located at Frankfort. Her survivors are; a sister Evelyn James of this city; two brothers Lucien and Franklin James, both serving in the Army, the former overseas".
Funeral services were held at the Baptist Church on College Street, with full military honors, including a the firing squad from Fort Knox. A black minister from Lexington preached the funeral. Burial took place in the Colored Cemetery near Stringtown.
Anna Mac would be remembered as a kind young woman who was devoted to her job in the military and wanted to make the military her career. Her efficiency reports indicated she was quite a good officer and performed above the set standards.
After she had taken ill, Anna's second in command, Merceedees A. Jordan, took over Section D; the Section would be expanded and eventually commanded by Naomi A. Sikes.
From its start as the WAAC in 1942 until the end of World War II in 1946, only two black women from Kentucky would join the Women's Army Corps and go on to become officers, Anna Clarke and Mary A. Bordeaux (from Louisville), who was a member of the first Officer Candidate Class at Fort Des Moines and eventually was assigned to WAC recruiting duty in Chicago, Illinois.
In September 1945, with the signing of the surrender document by the Japanese, World War II came to an end. The United States and its allies had finally defeated the enemy who had thrown Anna Mac and her generation into war, a war which would change forever the world that they had known.
On July 26, 1946, a little over two years after her death, President Truman issued Executive Order 9981, which called for equal treatment and opportunity for blacks in the military. Four years later on March 1, 1950, the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity reported that beginning in April 1950 the Army's quota system for blacks was out and that segregation was over in the military.
As for the WAC, in 1947 members of the WAC were permitted to opt for service in either the army or the newly separated air force. The Women's Armed Services Integration Act gave women permanent military status in the regular army or reserves. Finally, in 1978, the WAC itself was disestablished and its members were assigned or could enroll in all branches of the army and air force.
Completed and dedicated in 1950, Kentucky's Memorial Coliseum, located in Lexington on the campus of the University of Kentucky, was built to honor Kentucky's dead from World War II. Listed alphabetically, by county, panel number one lists Anderson County and with it the name of Anna Mac Clarke.
At the entrance to the Memorial Coliseum etched in stone:
"Here in stone and steel is raised
a memorial to
more than nine thousand sons and daughters
State of Kentucky
who gave their lives in battle
that we might live in peace
erect and strong and free"
WORLD WAR II 1941-45
"They shall grow not old, as we that are left
grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the
years condemn. At the going down of the sun
and in the morning we will remember them."
Fifty years after her death, Anna Mac Clarke was remembered by friends, family, and the Kentucky Historical Society when she was included in the "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition: Kentuckians and World War II" exhibit and catalog which told Kentucky's World War II story. In 1995, Ms. Etta Withrow submitted her name and story to Washington, D.C., to be included in the "Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc."
Anna Mac Clarke was a pioneer, part of a unique group of women who came together for one purpose, to help their country win a world war. She and her sister WAACs would also fight another war at home; that of racism, and they, as one unified force, began to break down the barriers of her race and gender which would eventually lead to the civil rights movement of the late 1940s, up through the 1960s. Anna Mac would never know the full impact her efforts to right injustice would have on things that we take for granted today, not only in the military, but in the civilian world as well.
Sergeant First Class John M. Trowbridge of the Kentucky Army National Guard is a member of the Anna Mac Clarke Memorial Fund Committee.