Honoring Rosie the Riveters
Gilmer High School establishes "Rosie the Riveter Room"
by Anne Montague
People in Glenville and surrounding areas will soon be known nationwide for helping West Virginia to become a model for other states to follow in the American Rosie Movement™ - a new kind of social movement that gets people to unite to create projects with American Rosie the Riveters (“Rosies”).
These women did many jobs to shorten and win World War II during WWII to supply our troops. The youngest is now 94, so time is short. West Virginians have been helping us for 14 years to prepare for a nationwide search for Rosies and for communities who “do something” to keep the Rosie Legacy™ alive.
From the start, Rosies said they want to be known for pulling together to do quality work for freedom. Unity and quality work to use freedom is the goal.
Glenville has done first-quality work with “Thanks!” for almost a decade, often under the leadership of Marissa Fox and her Girl Scout Troop 10123. Now, citizens in Gilmer County and nearby counties have started a project to name a schoolroom, “The Rosie the Riveter Room.” This demonstration project has high promise for schools to follow in WV, the country, and the world.
October 14th is the target date to name the schoolroom which will likely be at Gilmer County Middle School. That day is also the homecoming football game between the Calhoun and Gilmer County High Schools. But, you can bet that no matter which team citizens are supporting, they will agree that Rosies are important, their legacy must be known, and youth are the key to keeping freedom flowing.
I started looking for Rosies in 2007. In June 2008, I interviewed Garnet Kozielec in Dunbar, WV. She was trained in the Charleston Greyhound Bus Station, then she riveted airplane wing tips in Michigan and California. From that day on, I have felt both blessed and responsible for the world to know these authentic, important, underrecognized women. Now, we have interviewed at least 180 Rosies. However, interviewing Rosies about their work during the war is not all that needs to be done.
We must listen to what Rosies have contributed and seen over the last century. After all, the last 100 years have seen more change than any century in human history. They tell us how they conserved during the Great Depression and World War II, that many cared for veterans who were injured in body and spirit, about the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Empowerment Movement, and how computers have changed our culture.
We must also do what Rosies did and what they want to be known for – we must pull together to produce things that show we will cooperate to show that we value and will preserve our freedom. The classroom in Gilmer County is a fine start – youth must see what people can do if they pull together and do quality work.
Nancy Sipple, a Rosie in Putnam County who was instrumental in creating the only park that was constructed under the direction of Rosies, said it this way, “We pulled together then, we can do it again. It’s our only hope.”
Dorothy May, a Rosie in Jefferson County, said that Rosies chanted as they went to work, “We work better when we pull together.” My mother, Jessie Jacobs, a Rosie in Cabell County, said, “By working together, we do so much more than we could ever do alone.”
Currently,” Thanks!” has a small grant from the WV Humanities Council to inform and engage the public and leaders in unifying to name the schoolroom. Will you help us to do an excellent job so that people will follow school rooms will be named for Rosies nationwide? Please see www.AmericanRosieMovement.org for a partial list of what West Virginians helped us do to show that we are Americans who our country and the world needs.