The country’s oldest active ranger in the National Park Service just celebrated her 100th birthday.
Betty Reid Soskin, a ranger at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, has much to be proud of during her 100 years on this planet. NPS honored her birthday with a special Instagram post, which featured a lovely photo of her in her full ranger uniform.
The post from NPS read, “Over the past decade and a half, Ranger Betty has shared her experiences as well as the efforts and sacrifices of women from diverse backgrounds living and working on the World War II home front @rosietheriveternps.”
The post garnered over 370,000 likes and plenty of happy birthday wishes from Instagram users, including one person who wrote, “Happy birthday, Ranger Betty! Hope you have a wonderful day. Thank you for enriching so many of our lives.”
Another user, having seemingly seen the ranger in action, commented, “Happy Birthday lovely Betty! I so enjoyed listening to your talks (x2) at Rosie The Riveter.” That person added, “You are inspirational and so knowledgeable! Thank you for your many years of service and dedication. 💕”
In addition to the heartwarming post, the Rosie the Riveter NPS Instagram page announced that the Eastern National’s Passport To Your National Parks — a nonprofit that supports educational and scientific programs of the National Park Service — had created a special cancellation stamp in Soskin’s honor.
The Detroit-born ranger began her career with NPS in 2000, while in her mid 80s, and reportedly would often tell stories about her experience growing up as a young Black woman in the Bay Area during World War III when she would work at a segregated union hall as a file clerk.
Soskin, who’d grown up in a family with Cajun-Creole roots before her family migrated to the West Coast and relocated to Oakland, decided to become a ranger after serving as an NPS consultant during the beginning stages of the park’s planning. People reported that at the time Soskin was the only Black person involved and later played an fundamental role in ensuring the park’s history of racial segregation was not forgotten.
Soskin’s accomplishments have even earned her recognition from former President Barack Obama. In 2015, she was given a coin with the presidential seal and awarded the silver service medallion by the National WWII Museum.
However, a year later, Soskin was attacked in her home by an intruder who also took her commemorative coin. Yet, she pushed through and returned to work less than a month later.
Reflecting on her work, during a past interview, Soskin was reported as saying, “Though I am not a trained historian — my tours are necessarily a way to share my oral history with the public.” She added, “I tell the story of the African-American workers.”