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The embodiment of the American woman’s economic and social awakening

December 7, 1941, “a date that will live in infamy,” signaled the United States’ entrance into World War II. The country needed to adapt in order to support the war effort. America’s involvement signaled changes on the home front as well as shifts in the roles of men and women. Many men were enlisted in the armed service, leaving a large number of vacant jobs. Wartime production demanded more planes, guns, and other military goods, thus requiring an increase in the labor force.

That’s when the U.S. government called on women to fill these labor needs. They answered the call and came in droves and enlisted by waving American flags with hearts bursting with patriotism. The American woman went into action and diligently came to the rescue. Women were employed in a variety of jobs, which had previously been carried out by men. They joined the military, worked in defense plants fastening rivets to aircraft, welded, drove street cars, and worked on farms. They built armor, ammunition, and other war supplies that powered the U.S. military to victory in Europe and Asia.  

During the war women joined volunteer organizations to support the needs of the home front and our brave servicemen. Groups that volunteered their efforts in the war included the United States Services Organization (USO), The American Red Cross, and The American Womens Voluntary Services (AWVS).

The United States Citizens Defense Corps was established in 1940. Its volunteers, which numbered approximately 325,000 women, engaged in a wide range of activities including:
working in canteens, selling war bonds, taking photographs, and driving ambulances among many other things. The AWVS was an interracial organization that included African-American women and many other minority groups.

But nothing comes close to embodying the efforts of the American woman to embrace all of the hardships to promote the war effort than the iconic poster of “Rosie The Riveter.”

Why does Rosie The Riveter continue to endure? Mae Krier has watched members of her World War II generation die over the years, many taking rich historical stories with them, and she is determined to keep their invaluable efforts and heroics alive. The 94-year-old “Rosie The Riveter,” who once made warplanes, fondly reminisces about her favorite bandana that she made while toiling away in the Boeing factory where she helped make B-17 and B-29 airplanes as a teenager during World War II. She remembers having to retie the burgundy bandana when it slipped off her head during her shift in the Seattle factory. There, she and other young female workers wore handkerchiefs to protect their hair from getting caught in the machines and yanked out from their scalps.

For many years Krier has paid tribute to the beloved Rosie by making red bandanas with white polka dots, a style shown in J. Howard Miller’s iconic poster “We Can Do It”  for Westinghouse Electric. She once said, ” The women were every bit as good as men. Up until 1941, it was a man’s world, and they didn’t know how capable American women were. We sure showed them!’.

Despite many myths, the arm-flexing woman has become a nostalgic yet timeless symbol of “girl power.” The “We Can Do It” can be translated into many sentiments and situations of today’s women. For instance, “We Can Win The War,” or “I am a woman and I can do this!”

It’s still all about the power of positive efforts and positive thoughts, and it was an iconic poster that credited women who had already joined the workforce while intending to inspire young women to join the efforts of these other American women.  

“The will of a woman’s desire to overcome unsurmountable obstacles to win the race can never be severed or underestimated — to that, there is no debate. Her spirit can never be denied, an esteemed veneration sealed in fate.”

I believe that there were times in American history when two defining moments blindsided our country with catastrophic events; the stock market crash of October 28, 1929, and the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Two shocking events that came out of nowhere. What followed was a nation of patriotic Americans that “came together” to beat both forces of evil by working side by side restoring that which could have torn a nation apart forever.

We are now at a time when those forces are at work again that have already caused a large chasm of fear, anger, and disconnection between the citizens of this great country. Those present forces, if left untouched, will become persuasive, and then permeate so far into our mainstream that there will be no chance of turning back. We must return to the moral compass that was established long ago to guide us back to a peace-loving, strong, resilient, and solvent America. This is our time to cross the finish line together holding a torch of victory with so little time to waste.



1 Comment

  • Naomi
    Posted September 3, 2023

    A great account of womens ability to participate in this great country’s history. The women’s baseball league was formed in 1943, I believe. Most men were actively serving our country and women “ stepped up to the plate, “ We, as a whole, need to make our best effort to unite, strengthen and pray for our country to return to it’s greatness. There’s clout in numbers and power in prayer.

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