MENLO PARK, Calif. --Congress has sent President Barack Obama a bill that, in the minds of many, rights a snub for women aviators who served in World War II. It began with a petition, sent by a woman from the Bay Area.
The airplane on Jean Harman's Menlo Park mailbox might serve as a tip-off.
"Lots of women flew," Harman said.
She didn't just like airplanes, she flew them during World War II, as an elite member of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots, also known as WASP, testing and delivering military planes.
As the WASP saw it, they were already in the Army Air Corps, and were just waiting confirmation any day. They lived in barracks, saluted, marched, flew every airplane in the arsenal, often in difficult conditions.
"We flew by railroad tracks and water towers with the name of the town. Those were our best navigating aids," Harman said. "We didn't have those radio directional guides at all.
Though navigating politics would be more difficult. The WASP only received recognition by the Veterans Administration in the 1970s.
"It was the usual lack of respect for our organization," Harman said.
Then, last year they suffered the ultimate insult to the WASP. The Army, which runs Arlington National Cemetery, decreed it had no more room to inter them.
Only this week, Congress reinstated the honor. Thank Tiffany Miller of Walnut Creek, who wrote a petition on behalf of all WASP, including her grandmother, Elaine Danforth Harmon, who just passed after a long battle with cancer.
"To not be able to lay her to rest is heartbreaking, and to have a letter from Arlington saying her service doesn't count, she doesn't matter, is also heartbreaking. So we had to make it right," Miller said. And now she has.
It's nice to have the option, Harmon said, but she married a Navy man.
"My husband was buried at sea. We're going to have a little kayak flotilla," she said.