Today, Tuesday March 21 2017, is officially the first ever American Rosie the Riveter Day, a nationwide observance honoring the women who worked in defense roles on the World War II home front, breaking barriers and reshaping the modern workforce. The national recognition will be marked locally at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park visitors center, 1414 Harbour Way South with an appearance by six of the women who worked in the Richmond shipyards.
The day of recognition became official with the approval of a U.S. Senate resolution approved on March 15.
“Thanks to leadership efforts by California Congress people, Jared Huffman, Jackie Speier and Mark DeSaulnier, and to Senate Resolution 76, introduced by Senator Bob Casey, and passed on March 15, this coming Tuesday, March 21, will mark the first ever American Rosie the Riveter Day,” the Richmond-based Rosie The Riveter Trust nonprofit organization said in an announcement. “To mark this landmark day, six of the original Rosies, now in their 90s, who serve as national park docents to help educate the public about what the War and what they did, will be on hand at Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond.”
Phyllis Gould, 95, one of the original Rosie the Riveter welders during WWII, wears her shipyard ID at home in Fairfax, Calif. on Friday, March 3, 2017. She has lobbied for a Rosie the Riveter national day. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)
The trust explains the significance of the day in its news release:
“Most people don’t think of Rosie the Riveter as someone who paved the way for women’s equality in the workforce. The prevailing idea is that Rosie stepped up to fill a gap while men fought the war during World War II. While that was true, and many women were patriotic, a majority of women who went into the workforce as riveters, welders, electricians, engineers and more during the course of the years 1941 to 1945, were women of all ages seeking to gain high level skills and salaries after years of being passed over for jobs or doing backbreaking work as field hands, nannies and more. Some were young women who had not yet found decent work; some escaped abusive families. But whatever the reasons why they descended upon towns across the U.S. that were producing ships and planes for the war effort, they found a new freedom, good money, and a chance to excel in unfamiliar formerly “men’s” jobs. Women’s History Month is a perfect time to celebrate what the Rosies truly did, both for our country, and for women, as they changed the way we work.”
Approval of American Rosie the Riveter Day comes after years of lobbying by former Rosies Phyllis Gould, 95, of Fairfax in Marin County, and Mae Krier of Pennsylvania. But this year’s observance is a one-time event — at least for now. The federal resolution was passed by the U.S. Senate, but not the House of Representatives, and approval by both is needed to make the day an annual observance, said Marsha Mather-Thrift, executive director of the Rosie the Riveter Trust.
The national day is also a prelude to a gala dinner event being held by the trust on April 8 themed “Rosies Forever.” Tickets are still available for the gala, where former Rosies and current park docents Marian Sousa of El Sobrante, Priscilla Elder of Pinole, Marian Wynn and Kay Morrison of Fairfield, Agnes Moore of Walnut Creek and Mary Torres of San Leandro will be featured guests, along with park ranger Betty Reid Soskin.