An American Hero of Another Generation
Julia Child died peacefully in her sleep yesterday (Friday) morning, just two days shy of her 92nd birthday. Okay, I'm sure a lot of you kids are going, "Julia who?" Mrs. Child, the Queen of Cooking, was a fixture of my childhood. Through her TV show, "The French Chef" she made America believe that anyone could cook elegant, gourmet meals, and she showed us how to do it.
"With a kitchen towel tucked into her apron and that distinctive, often-parodied voice, Mrs. Child -- who stood nearly 6 feet, 2 inches tall -- came across more like everyone's quirky but beloved aunt on her long-running TV show, "The French Chef."
Though she denied a long- circulated myth that she once dropped a chicken, picked it up and continued cooking on the air, she did confess, in a 1989 interview with the New York Times, to flipping a potato pancake in the air and missing it in the pan.
"Remember, you are alone in the kitchen and no one can see you," she quipped to the camera.
"She made it OK to say, 'You know what, this is fancy French food, but if you drop a pot roast on the floor . . . who cares, it's not the end of the world."
Many do not know of the other and more noble reason that America should honor and mourn this iconic lady. You see, when World War II began Julia McWilliams was not a chef. She was an American, and she signed up with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of our CIA.
"Though Julia would later say, modestly, "I was just a file clerk," she had a high security clearance for her work, ... (and) ... tracked sensitive documents, dispatches, and espionage/sabotage. A colleague in Air Force Intelligence stated that Julia "was privy to every top secret ... which required a person of unquestioned loyalty, of rock-solid integrity, of unblemished lifestyle, of keen intelligence."
A culinary giant and a patriotic OSS file clerk, Julia made the case for living life to its fullest. She has left the world a richer place than she found it, and we are poorer for her leaving it. For that she deserves a tear and a salute.
Military Officer Magazine