COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — Earlier this week, 102-year-old World War II veteran Millie Bailey had her head in the clouds. On Thursday, her feet were planted firmly on the ground as she earned yet another honor.
A group of community leaders gathered in a small ceremony in Columbia to honor the larger-than-life figure by officially opening Bailey Park by the Lakefront.
The park, named in Bailey’s honor, comprises of land transferred from the Howard Hughes Corporation to the county. The county’s recreation and parks department will operate the park.
At Thursday’s ceremony, Columbia Association President/CEO Milton Matthews called the entire lakefront area a special place for the community.
“There’s a passion and care for this setting. On behalf of all of us at the Columbia Association, we welcome the addition of Bailey Park to the Downtown Lakefront,” Matthews said.
The park includes a playground for kids, water fountains and the future home of the Howard County Veterans Monument. Leaders hope it will also serve as a place where people can gather and express their First Amendment rights.
Bailey, who was born in Washington, D.C., in 1918 and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has too many accomplishments to list. She joined the U.S. Women’s Army Auxiliary in 1942 and was honorably discharged four years later.
After working in public service for decades, she retired in 1975 and dedicated her time to raising tens of thousands of dollars for county schoolchildren and other causes.
After spending a decade mulling the idea, Bailey decided to go skydiving, which she said she “always thought… would be a thrill.”
On Thursday, she reiterated a sentiment she told WJZ’s Sean Streicher following her jump.
“I’m happy that I’ve been able to do the things that I have done to serve, the things that I have done in the community and in the state,” she said, describing the park’s naming in her honor “prestigious recognition.”