Women Who Worked on the Home Front World War II Memorial Act

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 1, 2021
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. NORTON. Madam Speaker, I thank both of my friends for their kind remarks on my bill, the Women Who Worked on the Home Front World War II Memorial Act. As my friend has just said, this is really an unusual bill because it came to me from a fifth grader. I am particularly pleased and proud to speak in favor of her bill, the Women Who Worked on the Home Front World War II Memorial Act. This is all her idea, including getting the funds for the memorial.

This bill would authorize the establishment of a memorial on Federal land in the District of Columbia commemorating the efforts of the 18 million American women who kept the home front running during World War II.

Madam Speaker, I thank Senators Tammy Duckworth, Marsha Blackburn, and Mike Braun for introducing the companion bill in the Senate. Last Congress, the House passed this non-controversial bill by a voice vote, and I am hoping for that result again in this House and in the Senate.

As a teenager, Raya Kenney, the founder--and I emphasize ``founder'' for this very young woman--of the non-profit Women Who Worked on the Home Front Foundation--her own foundation--and my constituent, as she is, came up with the idea of a memorial to honor the women on the home front who supported World War II in its effort.

She rightfully questioned why the women on the home front, whose efforts were so instrumental in maintaining the stability of our country during World War II, have not received as much recognition for their contributions as the men who fought bravely in World War II.

This bill would authorize the Women Who Worked on the Home Front Foundation to establish a memorial to honor these women. The memorial is designed to be interactive and to educate visitors on the important role women played during World War II.

Between 1940 and 1945, the percentage of women in the workforce increased from 27 percent to nearly 37 percent. By 1945, one in four married women worked outside the home. The work done by women on the home front opened the doors for women in the workplace widely and has had a profound and lasting effect on the job market ever since.

As a result of their efforts, millions of American women on the home front redefined so-called women's work and paved the way for future generations.

Many women also played critical roles in support of the war effort. More than 10,000 women served behind the scenes of World War II as codebreakers. Due to the classified nature of their work, they did not receive recognition for their tireless efforts until recently.

Women were also trained to fly military aircraft so male pilots could leave for combat duty overseas. More than 1,100 female civilian volunteers flew nearly every type of military aircraft as part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, the WASP program.

The WASPs flew planes from factories to bases, transported cargo, and participated in simulated strafing and target missions. These women were not given full military status until 1977, and it was not until 2010 that they were recognized with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Women have been historically underrepresented in our memorials, particularly the memorials on Federal land in our Nation's capital. It is fitting to authorize a memorial that would allow millions of visitors to the Nation's capital to understand and honor the heroic efforts of these women and their lasting impact on the fabric of our society.

Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill.