U.S. House Passes Spanberger Legislation to Name a Chesterfield Post Office After World War II Code Breaker, Midlothian Resident Dorothy Bruce

Sep 14, 2020
Local Issues
Press

Ahead of the Bill’s Passage, the Congresswoman Spoke on the Floor of the U.S. House to Honor & Celebrate Bruce’s Life

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today unanimously voted to pass U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger’s legislation to name a Chesterfield County post office after World War II code breaker and former Midlothian resident Dorothy Bruce.

Spanberger’s legislation honors the legacy of Dorothy Bruce, who was recruited by the U.S. military during World War II to serve in a top-secret group of code-breaking women. Sworn to secrecy, Dorothy’s unit worked to disclose the locations of Japanese ships in the Pacific, identify and intercept enemy supply movements, and protect the lives of American servicemembers. Bruce passed away at the age of 99 last year.

Spanberger’s bill would rename the post office to the “Dorothy Braden Bruce Post Office Building.” The post office is located at 1201 Sycamore Square Drive in Midlothian — near Spring Arbor Assisted Living, where Dorothy lived.

Today, Spanberger spoke on the floor of the U.S. House to honor Dorothy’s life ahead of the passage of this legislation.

Click here to watch her full remarks, and a full transcript is below.

Midlothian resident Dorothy Braden Bruce — or “Dot,” as she was widely known, embodied the true spirit of Central Virginia and our Commonwealth.

In the Second World War, Dorothy’s work to break Japanese codes was one of the most pivotal Allied codebreaking efforts in the war. Having been recruited by the military to serve in a top-secret group of codebreaking women, she intercepted enemy movements, supply shipments, and potential threats to American servicemembers.

But for 70 years, Dorothy Bruce kept her story a secret. She had sworn an oath of secrecy, and it wasn’t until an author reached out to her a few years ago that she learned she could finally talk about her — by the — declassified work in the service of our country. And it was at this time that even her grown children first learned of their mother’s pivotal work.

Dorothy Bruce didn’t ask for credit, and she didn’t seek the limelight. She knew that she had protected the lives of American servicemembers in the field of combat, and she knew their families were prospering and growing in the following decades thanks to the diligence of her top-secret codebreaking unit. For her, that was an achievement worth celebrating, though quietly and secretly.

Meanwhile, Dorothy became a dedicated member of our Central Virginia community. She worked as an educator, and she raised a loving family. Last year, she passed away at the age of 99.

This legislation honors Dorothy Braden Bruce’s life in service to our country and service to others across Central Virginia.

Her story continues to inspire — and that’s why I’m working to make sure our community will always remember Dorothy Bruce’s story and the stories of her fellow woman codebreakers.

My legislation would name the Sycamore Square post office in Midlothian, Virginia — near where she once lived at Spring Arbor Assisted Living — after her.

With this bipartisan bill passing today, we are one step closer to future generations of trailblazers walking through the doors of the “Dorothy Braden Bruce Post Office Building.”

I’d like to thank every Member of the Virginia House for signing onto this bill in order to recognize Dorothy Bruce’s work.

She was a trailblazer. Her ingenuity and her determination as a codebreaker did not just blaze a path for a generation of future codebreakers and women in public service — but it saved thousands of American lives.

And for women pursuing careers in science and math — and intelligence, Dorothy is a reminder of the pioneering contributions of women in these fields throughout our nation’s history.

Today, I would also like to thank Dot’s loving family for their work to amplify her story and reaffirm the importance of the female codebreakers of World War Two. Their story is knowing and worth celebrating.

This bill is just a small act to remember and recognize Dorothy Braden Bruce’s remarkable life of courage, dedication, selflessness, and service to country.

Spanberger’s bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Virginia’s entire U.S. House delegation.

As a cryptanalyst with the U.S. Army Signal Corps’ Signal Intelligence Service, Dorothy Bruce was one of thousands of American women serving as codebreakers throughout World War II. Dorothy’s story is featured in the bestselling book Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy.

According to Mundy in a 2017 interview with the Chesterfield Observer, the contributions of women like Bruce were key factors in delivering an Allied victory in the Pacific:

“While it might not sound as significant as cracking the Enigma machine, Mundy says it’s one of the three most important Allied codebreaking efforts of the conflict, up there with the sinking of Nazi U-boats or intelligence gained ahead of the crucial Battle of Midway.”

Click here to see the full text of Spanberger’s legislation.

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