"Something that was meant to save somebody from a crashing plane, then became the parachute that carried them throughout their marriage," said one of the bride's daughter.
"It’s a story of love. It’s a story of bravery. It’s a story of hope. It’s a story of future," said Kate as she spoke about her mother's wedding dress with nothing but pride. The museum-worthy wedding dress is around seven and a half decades old and was worn in 1945 by her mother, Evelyn. Now hanging at the Cradle Of Aviation Museum’s collection on Long Island, the wedding dress reflects a part of history that Evelyn's husband, George, lived through as he fought in battles to defeat Hitler during wartime.
As a young army pilot, George was on a mission when his plane took on enemy fire, but thanks to his parachute, he was safe and eventually able to return back home to the love of his life.
"My father came home with this parachute filled with holes,” Kate told CBS2. "If the parachute were not there, it would have killed him." "My mother got the idea to have that parachute transformed into this beautiful gown," said Kate's brother, Mike Braet. Back then, silk was not easily available. And so Evelyn used George's life-saving parachute to make her dress and interweave its story into the beginning of their marriage.
"Something that was meant to save somebody from a crashing plane, then became the parachute that carried them throughout their marriage," Kate said about the dress. The beautiful wedding gown has yellowed with time, but it narrates the departed couple's legacy to visitors at the Cradle of Aviation Museum. "It’s just one story of millions, I’m sure, of what people went through during the war... and how difficult it was," said Mike. "My parents are now going to live forever."
From the 1940s, there comes another story of a bride who was also able to wear her groom's World War II parachute to their wedding. Her husband, Major Claude Hensinger was on a mission when the B-29 pilot's engine caught fire and had to land over China with his parachute, according to Good News Network. With no other choice, Claude spent the night at the same spot with his parachute acting as both a pillow and blanket till he was rescued the next day.
Once Claude returned home to America, he began living a normal life and looked up his old friend, Ruth. After courting for a while, George decided to ask Ruth to marry him. But instead of a ring, George had something else in his hand when he proposed to her. "This is the parachute that saved my life. I want you to make a wedding dress out of it," Claude told her.
At first, Ruth wasn't sure how it would work. But she thought if Scarlet O’Hara from Gone With the Wind could make a dress out of a curtain, then she certainly could make one out of the parachute that saved her partner's life. With a little help from a local seamstress, Ruth turned the parachute into a beautiful dress; she stitched the skirt herself while the seamstress named Hilda Buck stitched the bodice and veil, according to The Vintage News.
"My husband didn’t see the gown until I walked down the aisle," Ruth said.
George was mesmerized as he saw Ruth walk down the Neffs Luther Church in Pensylvania on their wedding day—July 19, 1947. "He was happy with it," Ruth said. Years later, the couple's daughter and daughter-in-law also wore the very same dress on their wedding days. Today, the Parachute Wedding Dress has a home at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and continues sharing a heroic story from the past.
Cover image source: CBS New York/YouTube