Dot Braden - The Secret Keeper
Dorothy Braden had a normal life. She grew up in Lynchburg, Virgina, went to Randolph Macon Women’s College, became a Physics/French teacher, was recruited by the Army and became a Japanese code expert during WWII, got married and had some children.
::insert the sound of a record screeching::
Dot (as her coding friends called her) found herself covering extra high school classes as teachers left for war or got married. She’d had enough of that. When Dot heard the Army was looking for college-educated southern teachers, she didn’t care that the details of the position were vague, or that she had a strange interview in a random hotel room, she was “up for anything at that point”. Her words, not ours.
Even as she pulled up in a cab to the barbed-wired building (a defunct girls school in Arlington, VA) that was manned with armed guards, it was still a favorable option to being an overworked high school teacher.
She learned Japanese and became an expert cryptographer - In just a few weeks. Most of us have laundry sitting in a basket for a few weeks. To make you feel better about your laundry, Dot knew before President Truman that the Japanese surrendered.
As you can imagine, this job was a bit more hush hush than our jobs of making and slinging handbags. In order to keep it that way - Dot and her coworkers were threatened with espionage punishable by life in prison. They were told to keep this a secret. For life. In 2017 when the NSA declassified e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, a writer came to speak with Dot. But our girl was like, nope, I’m not falling for your tricks. It took quite a bit of time to convince her that it was ok to talk. She even insisted her son, a lawyer, be present. So after 70 years, Dot’s story was finally told and, lucky for us, we get to read her legacy for generations to come.