NEW YORK - It’s a new beginning for the Cradle of Aviation Museum - where a 75-year-old wedding dress made of a World War II parachute will one day be on display. Papers signed by two of the four Braet siblings made the donation official. The parachute that saved their dad during the war, was later transformed into a silk wedding dress worn by their mom.
“It’s the end of something for us,” said Sister Kate Braet who donated the dress with her siblings. “What was meant to save him if he had to jump out of his plane actually became something that represented their life in the future.”
“They never could’ve afforded the silk wedding dress,” said Mike Braet. “Parachutes were made of silk because nylon wasn’t invited yet.”
The parachute, similar to this, was worn by Air Corps. co-pilot Lt. George Braet during a 1944 mission over Europe. Flak pierced the side of the aircraft but the tightly packed parachute stopped a piece from killing him. Rendered useless - he was allowed to take it home.
“If that piece of flak went higher, it would’ve killed him,” said Mike Braet. “I wouldn’t have been here.”
A torn up parachute meant so much more to his soon-to-be wife Evelyn.
“When he finally got out of service, my mother looked at the silk and said in that, there’s a wedding dress,” Sister Kate said.
Its pieces were meticulously sewn together by a seamstress, worn on their wedding day and then hung in a closet for decades. It was handed over to the museum to tell a story of war - those who perished and those who patiently waited for their loved ones to return.
“I’ve been at the museum since 1982 I’d have to say this was one of the most interesting personal artifacts that we’ve ever had donated,” said Cradle of Aviation curator Josh Stoff.
Although the couple passed years ago, the Braet siblings hope the tale of the parachute wedding dress keeps their parents memory and spirit alive.
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