In today’s time, Rosie the Riveter is a very popular costume for women. I have also seen women empowerment campaigns and groups use Rosie the Riveter as a symbol. Rosie is seen as a symbol of “girl power”, promoting great strength for various women awareness topics.
But did you know that Rosie the Riveter was a real person? Make that plural. Rosie was not just one woman— she was an embodiment of women. Many women served as a “Rosie” during WWII. In fact, Rosie the Riveter was a movement which paved the way for many opportunities women have today.
Last year, Michala and I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Rosie the Riveter Guinness World Record event in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The event was to gather as many “Rosies” to break a world record of “The Most Rosie the Riveters.” The event was held at the Willow Run Airport– the original plant “Rosies” worked at during WWII.
I have a confession to make. Before we moved to Michigan, I did not know very much about Rosie the Riveter. I knew it was related to WWII and it was also a very popular costume for women. But other than that, I didn’t know it’s origination or how the campaign played a great role in the war efforts.
Who are the Original Rosies?
During WWII, many men were deployed serving in the war. There was a great need for industrial workers in the United States so a campaign was created (Rosie the Riveter) to recruit women to work in factories.
Most of the women did not have experience in the industrial industry. Yet, they proudly served, and if it wasn’t for them, the U.S. may not have had the help they needed.
It was doubted at first that women could do heavy industrial work, but with the war escalating, manufacturers and the government were desperate for workers. These pioneering “Rosies” proved that women could do a man’s job, and do it well, and paved the way for the workplace diversity we enjoy today.
African American Women Also Served
Black women also worked in bomber plants during the war. According to the Philadelphia Free Press, more than 600,000 African American women worked in government, factories, and corporate offices. The women earned more money serving in these various positions than they did as sharecroppers and housekeepers. These jobs allowed Black women to move “from bare subsistence levels to life-sustaining wages.”
During the event, the museum also recognized the Black women who served during WWII. You can read the article about “The Other Rosie the Riveters” here if you like.
Why go to the Rosie the Riveter Event?
I thought it would be an enriching learning experience for Michala. She could learn first-hand how women from a different time period were strong and worked hard to achieve their life goals. It was a great opportunity for Michala to understand how women, like the “Original Rosies,” helped pave the way in the workforce for women today.
We learned valuable information about the female wartime workers and the great service they gave to our country. I felt honored and humbled to have met the “Original Rosies.”
A Heartfelt Experience
As the announcer called out each woman’s name, my eyes filled with tears. I felt very proud of the “Rosies” service during WWII. I also felt great emotion because my husband was only a few months fresh out of the Army. It reminded me of our former life as a military family, my husband’s military deployments, and how much patriotism was valued during our time as an Army family.
It was an honor to have volunteered for the Rosie the Riveter Guinness World Record event. The “Original Rosies” are true American heroes. Attending the event inspired me to become a volunteer Tribute Rosie.
The Tribute Rosies attend various events in Michigan and other U.S. states to help raise awareness about saving the Bomber Plant. So far, I have attended three events and it has always been a great pleasure to connect with other women and educate the general public about the campaign.
To learn more about the Yankee Air Museum’s campaign to “Save the Bomber Plant”, please visit the Save the Bomber Plant’s official website. It is an amazing campaign!
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All photographs are courtesy of Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit.