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Congress Considers Memorial for WWII Icon Rosie the Riveter

Aired July 17, 2000 - 1:57 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Rosie the Riveter, a World War II icon for millions of factory workers.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And she does not have an official memorial yet.

But CNN's Don Knapp reports Congress is considering one, and lots of real-life Rosies say it is high time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DON KNAPP, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Red Oak Victory is one of the last, a survivor of a proud fleet of cargo ships that served in World War II. Just as volunteers work to save this old veteran, others work to save the memory of the women who helped build the ships, as well as tanks, airplanes and other machines of war.

MAUDE HALL, FORMER SHIP WELDER: I'm right there where my finger is.

KNAPP (on camera): What did you do on that ship?

HALL: I was a welder.

KNAPP (voice-over): Women like Maude Hall were the real-life models for the wartime poster, "Rosie the Riveter."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, ADVERTISEMENT)

UNIDENTIFIED CHORUS (singing): Working for victory, Rosie the Riveter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HALL: My last job, I worked in the double bottoms, and that was murder -- taking your lines all the way down to the double bottoms and welding down there part of the time on your stomach.

KNAPP: The Richmond yards built 747 ships from '41 to '45.

MARION SOUSA, FORMER CRAFTSMAN: And everybody was working, everybody pitched in. My whole family did -- four women in our family: our mother and three of us daughters that worked in the shipyard. KNAPP: A few years ago, then-Richmond City Council member Donna Powers asked the National Park Service to put a plaque on a Rosie the Riveter memorial.

DONNA POWERS, ROSE THE RIVETER MEMORIAL: And so they said, we think that there's something more to this project than a plaque on your memorial.

KNAPP: Between '41 and '43, Richmond grew from 24,000 to more than 100,000.

RAY MURRAY, NATIONAL PARK SERVICES: And they were coming from all over the country. So there was just a tremendous integration in terms of race, in terms of sex. It really accelerated the melting pot.

CONSTANCE REID, FORMER AIRPLANE WORKER: Well, when we went down to apply for jobs, naturally we put on our best, smartest clothes. When we went to work, we were wearing uniforms -- pants -- we were wearing heavy shoes.

KNAPP: Phyllis Gould still has her welder's badge.

PHYLLIS GOULD, FORMER SHIP WELDER: To watch the welding bead, it was almost like embroidery. It was precise and beautiful.

OLLIE HAWKINS, FORMER SHIP WELDER: It was hard work. It wasn't easy at all, but we didn't pay no attention to it. We just knew there was a war going on.

KNAPP: A war women workers helped win.

Don Knapp, CNN, Richmond, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Great story.

PHILLIPS: There you go. Better get that memorial.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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