Betty Reid Soskin, Richmond's celebrity National Park Service ranger, is in Washington, D.C., Thursday to participate in a national holiday ritual.
Soskin, 94, a ranger at Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, will introduce President Obama at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony outside the White House.
The National Park Service's oldest active ranger, Soskin was just 1 when the first lighting ceremony took place in 1923. She says the honor of introducing the president is overwhelming.
“I think that defies words. I am so moved by his being -- by having him in the White House," Soskin said. "As he is someone I think I would love to have known. He represents much of reality, as I would like to envision it to be for me. So much of it’s personal for me.”
During World War II, Soskin worked in Richmond’s Kaiser shipyards as a file clerk for a segregated, all-black local of the boilermakers union. More than a half-century later, Soskin was instrumental in planning the Rosie the Riveter park, which was established in 2000. Now as a ranger, Soskin leads the public on free tours enriched by her personal experience of shipyard history.