Disney honored World War II female U.S. Navy veteran Dorothy “Pat” Rudd as “Veteran of the Day” during the June 7th Flag Retreat ceremony in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. A pioneer and heroine, Pat volunteered and joined the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) program to perform shore-based duties for the U.S. Navy after U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Public Law 689 in 1942.
The law established the Women’s Reserve as a branch of the Naval Reserve and authorized women to serve in the U.S. Navy for the duration of the war, plus six months. Stationed in Washington, DC, Pat became one of the first 200 WAVES to be deployed overseas – in her case, to the then Territory of Hawai’i. There, she served as an educator, teaching service members how to read and write and helped in the hospital attending the wounded.
Pat met her husband, Gerald, at Pearl Harbor, who was active-duty Navy himself and were married for 71 years. Prior to participating in the Flag Retreat ceremony, Pat visited Frontierland in Magic Kingdom, which her late husband helped bring to reality. Gerald was part of the construction team that built the structures in this area of the theme park, as well as parts of EPCOT and the original resort hotels of Walt Disney World.
“I was really happy the buildings he helped build in Frontierland are still there,” said Rudd. “I’m proud of him and that his work has brought so much joy to so many people here at Disney.”
Honoring Pat during the day’s events were members of Disney SALUTE, a veteran employee resource group, including Susan Finnigan, Lead Project Manager for Disney marketing and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
“Pat’s unwavering spirit and commitment to duty are an inspiration to fellow servicewomen,” said Finnigan. “It was an honor to be able to join my fellow veterans here at Disney to help celebrate a trailblazer and hero like Pat.”
On June 12, 1948, three years after the end of World War II and Rudd’s naval service, President Harry S. Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act into law, officially opening the door for women to serve as full, permanent members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. The day is recognized annually as Women Veterans Day.
Disney has long honored those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces throughout the 100-year history of The Walt Disney Company. That tradition continues today with events like the daily Flag Retreat ceremony at Magic Kingdom, where an active-duty military member or veteran is selected from the park’s daily visitors to be honored.
Disney said it is honored to offer a heartfelt tribute to the unsung female military heroes of the past and all those who continue to serve today.