Women Who Worked on the Home Front World War II Memorial Act
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL A. CALDWELL, ACTING ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PARK PLANNING, FACILITIES, AND LANDS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC LANDS CONCERNING H.R. 3531, A BILL TO AUTHORIZE THE WOMEN WHO WORKED ON THE HOME FRONT FOUNDATION TO ESTABLISH A COMMEMORATIVE WORK IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND ITS ENVIRONS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
OCTOBER 14, 2021
Chairman Neguse, Ranking Member Fulcher, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 3531, a bill to authorize the Women Who Worked on the Home Front Foundation to establish a commemorative work in the District of Columbia and its environs.
The Department supports the intent of the legislation but suggests an amendment may be helpful to clarify the focus of the commemorative work.
H.R. 3531 would authorize the Women Who Worked on the Home Front Foundation to establish a commemorative work on Federal land in Washington, D.C. and its environs to commemorate the “commitment and service represented by women who worked on the home front during World War II.” The bill requires compliance with the Commemorative Works Act (40 U.S.C. Chapter 89) (CWA) and prohibits Federal funds from being used to establish the memorial.
“Women Who Worked on the Home Front” refers to the countless American women who stepped up to support their nation during America’s involvement in World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, the female portion of the U.S. workforce increased from 27 percent to nearly 37 percent. More than 10,000 women worked as code breakers during WWII and over 1,100 female volunteers flew nearly every type of military aircraft as part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots program. Women were trained to fly military aircraft so male pilots could leave for combat duty overseas. Other jobs women filled, often for the first time, included keel welder, telegraph operator, steam hammer operator, radio engineer, electrical engineer, crane operator, flash welder, ship fitter, tinsmith, pipe fitter, surveyor, draftsman, and so much more.
In February 2020, the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission (Commission) reviewed an identical version of this legislation that was introduced in the 116th Congress. The CWA established the Commission and requires Congress to solicit its views when considering legislation authorizing commemorative works within the District of Columbia and its environs. During its review, the Commission agreed that the compelling story of American women’s contributions and changing status during World War II is of lasting national significance and that this proposed commemoration would enrich and diversify the portfolio of commemorative works in Washington, DC. The Commission also recommended keeping the focus of the commemorative work on the themes of “commitment” and “service,” rather than on the individuals themselves, in accordance with Section §8903(c) of the CWA.
Chairman Neguse, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.