In honor of Women’s History Month, a bipartisan Congressional Resolution has been introduced to designate March 21, 2017 as “National Rosie the Riveter Day.”
The national day of recognition would acknowledge millions of women who supported the war effort on the home front while men were deployed overseas during World War II.
Such a recognition would be special for Richmond, site of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. It would be even more satisfying for Phyllis Gould, 95, a Rosie who has worked for eight years to establish National Rosie the Riveter Day. Gould was one of the first six women to work as Navy-certified journeymen welders at the Kaiser-Richmond shipyards from 1942-45. In addition to penning countless letters to members of Congress, she has met with Vice President Joe Biden and written to Presidents Obama and Trump in support of the day of recognition.
Rep. Jared Huffman, one of the resolution’s many co-sponsors, said these women, who assumed roles in various industries traditionally worked by men, inspired generations to follow in their footsteps.
“The changing roles of women in the workforce during the war forced us to look at childcare and healthcare in a new way, and increased the momentum toward equal rights — a fight that continues today,” Huffman said in a statement.
Marsha Mather-Thrift, executive director of Rosie the Riveter Trust, said women during that era demonstrated “top-flight ability to learn new skills and excel in new fields, often in spite of prejudice.”
“They changed the workplace for women forever, and men and women owe them an enormous debt of gratitude,” Mather-Thrift said.
Rosie the Riveter was the iconic character displayed on a number of WWII era workforce recruiting posters. During that time, “Rosies” were credited with taking on the very roles that helped provide the ammunition and weaponry needed to win the war.
Between 1940 and 1955, the percent of women in the workforce jumped from 27 to nearly 37. By the end of the war, nearly one of every four married women worked outside the home. ‘Rosies’ took positions across various industries, however the aviation industry saw the biggest increase of female workers. In 1943, more than 310,000 women were employed by the aviation industry, representing more than 65-percent of its workforce.
Among the more than 50 members of Congress supporting the resolution are Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, who represents the Richmond area, as well as Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Christopher Coons (D-DE).
The full text of the resolution follows:
Expressing support for designation of March 21, 2017, as ‘‘National Rosie the Riveter Day’’.
Whereas ‘‘National Rosie the Riveter Day’’ is a collective national effort to raise awareness of the 16 million women working during World War II;
Whereas Americans have chosen to honor female workers who contributed on the home front during World War II;
Whereas these women left their homes to work or volunteer full-time in factories, farms, shipyards, airplane factories, banks, and other institutions in support of the military overseas;
Whereas these women worked with the USO and Red Cross, drove trucks, riveted airplane parts, collected critical materials, rolled bandages, and served on rationing boards;
Whereas it is fitting and proper to recognize and preserve the history and legacy of working women, including volunteer women, during World War II to promote cooperation and fellowship among such women and their descendants;
Whereas these women and their descendants wish to further the advancement of patriotic ideas, excellence in the workplace, and loyalty to the United States of America; and
Whereas March 21, 2017, during Women’s History Month, would be an appropriate date to designate as ‘‘National Rosie the Riveter Day’’: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) supports the designation of ‘‘National Rosie the Riveter Day’’; and
(2) acknowledges the important role played by women in World War II.