Monday, November 03, 2008

ON Halloween, we were encouraged to dress up to come to work. I went as Rosie the Riveter, but I discovered that many young people had never heard of her. So I wrote this little essay and handed out copies of it to those who didn't know Rosie.

I also included images of the two paintings that I refer to, but I can't get them to paste into this post. If you want to see the paintings, Google or Yahoo! search "Rosie the Riveter" and "Norman Rockwell."

Rosie the Riveter

20 years before John F. Kennedy delivered his famous lines, Rosie the Riveter lived by the statement: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

“Rosie the Riveter” represents the more than six million women who entered the American work force when American men left to fight in WW II. A Michigan factory worker by the name of Rose Will Monroe was the inspiration for J. Howard Miller’s poster painting in 1942.

Miss Monroe worked as a riveter in the Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Ypsilanti. She starred in a promotional film about the home front effort in the US and it is her image that was used in the accompanying poster campaign.

There is another “Rosie” who appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post May 29, 1943 in this painting by Norman Rockwell.

Note that under her foot, is a crumpled copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
Mary Doyle Keefe posed for Rockwell for this painting when she was 19 years old. She worked as a telephone operator in Arlington, Vermont.
When American wives, mothers and sisters began to see their men go off to fight in the European and Pacific battle fronts, “Rosie” went to work in American industries, such as munitions factories, shipyards, lumber mills, steel mills, farms and foundries.

During the years of WW II (1941-1945) the real “Rosies” produced 269,429 airplanes; 102,351 tanks; 372,431 artillery pieces; 47 million tons of artillery ammunition; 87, 620 warships; and 44 billion rounds of small arms ammunition.

Rosie had a job to do and she got it done. When the fighting men came home, most of the Rosies vacated their traditionally male dominated jobs and returned to homemaking. Many, however, had proven to themselves and to others that women were more capable of tackling heavy industry jobs than had been previously been believed. She is said to have paved the way for women who wanted to pursue employment outside the home.

6 comments:

Cliff said...

Good stuff Janell. Thanks for reminding us of the tremendous job done by women to run this country.
Joe's post about Howard Stern Chimes In, (below) explains all you need to know about who the 'real' racists are in this country.
I listened to the Obama interview from a couple of months ago promising to do in the coal industry and raise the cost of electricity. That should scare the crap out of few people. Well, just the ones who use electricity.

cdroses said...

Great essay! We have been watching a series of videos in my Women's Issues class, which goes over all the changes in the last century (20th that is.) Rosie has been mentioned frequently.

Marla said...

Very interesting essay! Did the employees read it!

Rachel said...

Good job Janell. Very good essay and I'm sure the ones that had never heard of her will remember her now!!

Janell said...

Thanks, Cliff. Yes, I heard that Obama interview, too. I wonder how he plans to create jobs for everyone in the coal industry who gets downsized, laid off or otherwise displaced?

Thanks, Cindy. I'm glad to hear that Rosie is coming up in your class. I think she is a very important historical figure.

Marla; Yes, they read it. Some of them were surprised that they had never heard of such an important American icon.

Thanks, Rachel. I think you're right. I was feeling a little awkward about "reducing" Rosie to a Halloween costume, but it gave me the chance to get some uninformed people acquainted with her.

nora said...

I love Rosie! What a great idea for a painless history lesson.