Kay looked across the room. Eisenhower was smiling and beckoning her over. She walked towards him, conscious that everyone was staring at her. She had not an idea in her head except the consoling thought that Ike never bawled his staff out in public.
He motioned her to turn and face the room, looked down at his notes and said, “Most of you will know that the army way at times like this is to get to the point – and then get to the champagne. So let me ask Miss Kay Summersby a question: will you accept a commission as Second Lieutenant in the Women’s Army Corps of the United States Army?”
The surprise was total. She swayed on her feet and felt her legs buckle. Then Colonel Davis was speaking loudly and solemnly, swearing her in as a member of the American Armed Forces. She managed to mumble her assent. Eisenhower stepped forward, took her arm and steadied her. Grinning, he pinned two gold bars onto her shoulder epaulettes. Champagne was handed round in fluted glasses.
After driving him many tens of thousands of miles, she was no longer his driver. From now on she would ride in the back of the car as his secretary, diary keeper, bridge partner and co-owner of the dog they both loved.
This was Eisenhower’s answer to the innuendo and the gossip of journalists, and to anyone who questioned the presence of Kay Summersby at his side.
“How do you feel?” he asked.
“I feel like someone has sent in a rocket to the moon and I’m slowly floating back to earth. I’m amazed. But how? I’m a Brit.”
He leant forward and whispered in her ear. “Citizenship comes next. Don’t worry, I’m fixing it. The President has agreed. You’ll be a Yank soon.”