By Megan Hansen
The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.
It couldn’t have been a more exciting or jam-packed day for Phyllis Gould of Fairfax and four other Rosie the Riveters who Monday met President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden while visiting Washington, D.C.
Gould, 92, worked as a welder at the Kaiser Richmond shipyards during World War II and has been writing letters since 2008 petitioning elected officials to recognize the contributions of Rosies such as herself. Biden invited the Rosies to the White House in October.
The women flew out of San Francisco on Saturday after starting a fundraising campaign late last year to make the visit.
Gould said Monday began with a visit and tour of the Pentagon, followed by a luncheon in one of the White House’s executive dining rooms. And that’s when she got her wish to meet the vice president.
“Biden comes flying into the room and comes and hugs me,” Gould said. “As he was talking to other people, he held onto my hand most of the time.”
Gould was accompanied by her draftsman sister Marian Sousa, 87, of El Sobrante; Marian Wynn, 87, of Fairfield; Kay Morrison, 90, of Fairfield; and Priscilla Elder, 93, of Pinole.
All have volunteered at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park visitors center in Richmond.
After the women met Biden, President Barack Obama came into the room.
“Obama came in and hugged everybody,” she said.
She and her fellow Rosies had their pictures taken with both leaders in the Oval Office. While Obama seemed a bit less approachable, Gould said Biden was very personable.
“Biden is just like a puppy dog. He is a people person,” she said.
The Rosies had the privilege of receiving a private White House tour, followed by meetings with local press. Gould said the group was scheduled to be featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday morning.
“It’s been quite a day,” she said. “(Tuesday) morning we go to Biden’s home for breakfast and he said he’s got more surprises for us. I can’t imagine what they could be.”
The Rosies will be in the nation’s capital for one week. Plans are in store for them to meet Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.
The nonprofit Rosie the Riveter Trust was able to raise $34,000 for the trip plus complimentary airfare. The funds not used for the trip will be used by the trust to tell the stories of other Rosies who couldn’t make the journey.