Tennessee legislature celebrates local veteran’s accomplishments

Birthdays are a special occasion for many, but for a milestone like the 100th, there can be room for two celebrations.

Two weeks after Florence “Helen” Shoopman Fetzer’s 100th birthday celebration, more members of the state legislature came to the Sycamore Shoals Assisted Living Center Thursday to issue a proclamation from the Tennessee Senate, awarding Fetzer the Centennial Award for her life of service to her community.

Senator Rusty Crow presented the official proclamations to Fetzer at 11 a.m. that day, one from the Tennessee Senate and one from Governor Bill Haslam.

“This is one of Haslam’s last signatures as governor,” Crowe said.

After presenting the certificates, she and Crowe exchanged stories about their time in the military and various highlights of Fetzer’s life.

Fetzer served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II, after responding to an advertisement in the local newspaper. She went to Iowa for boot camp.

“It was cold when we were marching,” she said. “When we got back, they told us to clean all the windows, and the rags would freeze in our hands.”

After that, she worked in the Pentagon at Washington D.C., and eventually went to George Washington University for her post-high school education.

She said she met several presidents during her lifetime, including Eisenhower, FDR and Truman.

After 100 years of life, Fetzer said she has lost many loved ones, including her husband from COPD at the age of 95 and her son to liver problems.

“I honestly have no idea how I have lived this long,” Fetzer said.

Crow said her life is an inspiration to all who hear it.

“Your mind is so active,” he said. “You have contributed so much to this community.”

He said Tennessee and the rest of America appreciate her dedication over the years.

“As Helen Fetzer enters her eleventh decade, she remains an inspiration to all as a trailblazer who, without hesitation, served her country in a great time of need,” the proclamation said.

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