“Actually, I was 17 and underage so I had to kind of fib,” Sousa says.
Commonly referred to as “Rosie the Riveter(s)” because of Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting of the same name, women who worked in American military factories were an integral part of wartime efforts.
For Sousa, a shipyard at peak operation was an exciting place to be.
“It was so busy you could actually see the energy in the air, everybody with a purpose,” Sousa says.
But there was a somber element to her first job too. The troop transports she was helping to build were taking many men to a war they might not come back from.
“But we knew they were going to bring them back and they did. On those ships, on our ships.”
Sousa and other women who worked on the home front were recently invited to the White House and thanked for their service. Sousa says she even got a kiss on the cheek from the President. The attention Sousa has received on account of her first job has come as a surprise to her.
“I never expected to be recognized, not only just locally, but by the President of the United States. I never, ever, ever expected that to happen. But it did, and I’m sky high.”