She's the oldest living National Park Ranger working full time in the United States. She worked as file clerk for an all African-American union that made boilers and steel plates during WWII. And she survived a brutal home invasion attack at her Richmond, Calif. home this summer.
For all this and more, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-Walnut Creek) will present Betty Reid Soskin with a Congressional Record statement at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond on Friday. The Congressional Record is the official record of the United States Congress and has been published daily since 1873. Soskin was officially read into the record on July 5.
"If anyone knows Betty, she's a special person and a special soul," DeSaulnier said. "Lincoln once said, 'In the end it's not the years in your life that count; it's the life in your years.' In Betty's case it's both. She is a phenomenal spirit."
Soskin grinned as she took the framed plaque and took the opportunity not to boast or gloat over the latest award in her life. Rather, she took the podium and started talking about the history of WWII, segregation and her current efforts to bring more artifacts into the museum where she works.
The award is one of a long list of honors Soskin has received in almost 100 years on this planet, ranging from California Woman of the year in 1995 to receiving a presidential coin from President Obama last Christmas when she was invited to light the National Christmas tree. That coin was stolen from her home in June by a thief who attacked Soskin, punching her several times in the face. The coin was later replaced during a surprise ceremony in July by the Secretary of Interior.
The most recent honor came last month, when Soskin celebrated her 95th birthday on Sept. 22. She was celebrated in Washington, D.C., during the opening of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Children sang her happy birthday, she got to meet plenty of celebrities, and she was asked to lead tours at the new museum, just like she does five days a week at the museum in Richmond.
Even Soskin noted the whirlwind of events, many of which will be formally memorialized in a documentary being made about her.
"How will I ever catch up with myself?" she blogged after returning from D.C.