It was a jubilant day along the bay in Richmond marked by Rosies and roses.
During a morning news conference Tuesday, March 21, 2017, park officials at Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond announced that day as the first-ever “National Rosie the Riveter Day.”
The national day honors ‘Rosie the Riveters,’ the trailblazing American women who pitched in on the WWII war effort in jobs as riveters, welders and electricians while men fought overseas.
A number of original ‘Rosie’s’ were present at Tuesday’s event, which included the unveiling of a “Rosie the Riveter” rose also named in their honor.
Joining the Rosies at the event were park officials and staff members from the offices of Congressional representatives who had joined together to make the national day a reality.
Elizabeth Tucker, lead park ranger at the park, addressed the sizable crowd and said she was “honored and pleased to be here on this nationally significant day, when we can honor our Rosie the Riveters, some of whom have been fighting to be recognized nationally like this for a long time.”
“We just feel as a country it is time to honor all the people, all the women, all the Rosies that sacrificed and worked hard on the home front during WWII and we are just really grateful,” she added.
While the National Rosie the Riveter Day resolution has passed in the U.S. Senate, it still needs to pass in the House of Representatives to become an annual observance.
Kelly English, chief of interpretation at the park said “this day so many of us have been waiting for for a long time is finally here with an official Rosie the Riveter Day,” adding that “It’s very meaningful for us for this day to fall within Women’s History Month in particular.”
Marsha Mather-Thrift, executive director with the Rosie the Riveter Trust, took time to honor the Rosies contributions to the wartime effort and to acknowledge those who helped make the national day a reality.
“They were remarkable women and it’s incredible to me watching what these women did and seeing how they broke ground for the women who came after them,” she said of the Rosies.
One original Rosie at the event, Phyllis Gould, was recognized by Mather-Thrift as having successfully advocated for the national day by tirelessly writing letters to Washington D.C. officials.
She also noted the efforts of Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Congressman Jared Huffman who “basically took this from being buried in pages and pages of defense bills and turned it into a reality for us. So we owe them extraordinary thanks.”
“We’re working hard to make sure it becomes an annual event,” Mather-Thrift added.
“I am so proud to have this important piece of history in my district and cannot think of a more fitting tribute to the invaluable contributions these women made than a national day of recognition during Women’s History Month,” Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, who was in Washington D.C., said via a statement read by his staff member Yvette Barr.
On the local level, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt remarked about how important the park is to the City of Richmond, especially in terms of fostering a positive image that’s contrary to Richmond’s persistent negative one.
“Richmond is really proud to be the host city for this park,” said Mayor Butt, adding that, “This park has meant a lot for the city.”
“The park service, the Rosies, all of you who have worked here have helped to change Richmond’s image…and that’s really important,” said the mayor.
“This is a great day and we look forward to help celebrating.”
The event wrapped up fittingly with the planting of a special rose named in honor of the Rosies, the “Rosie the Riveter” rose, which was developed with the help of the park’s partner, the Spirit of ‘45 coalition, which partnered with Weeks Roses to produce the namesake rose.
It was planted by a park ranger in the park’s victory garden before a sizable crowd—a fitting tribute to the other Rosies who once graced Richmond’s home front.
The 11 original Rosies at Tuesday’s event included: Eddie Mae Crummie, 97; Agnes Moore, 97; Priscilla Elder, 97; Marion Hernandez, 95; Phyllis Gould, 95; Mary Torres, 94; Connie Gomez, 94; Kay Morrison, 93;
Marian Sousa, 91; Dorothy Fonger, 91; and Marian Wynn, 91.
Another event that pays tribute to the “We can do it!” spirit of the Rosies is the annual “Rosie Rally” that occurs in Richmond that attempts to break the Guinness World Record for the number of people dressed as Rosie the Riveter.
Richmond currently holds the world record at 2,229 people dressed as Rosie. This year’s event will happen Aug. 12, 2017, at Richmond’s Craneway Pavilion. For more info, click here.