Rosie the Riveter Lives On
The opportunity to attend an air show in Ypsilanti, Michigan could not be passed up! The past two years, since beginning flight lessons, my interest in the aviation community has grown big-time. As my mother would say, “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times!” I’m not even exactly sure what that means….? The airport bums and aviation enthusiasts keep pulling me back to these air shows and experiences!
Thunder Over Michigan-Three Favorite’s
1). This show presented a few new opportunities, one of which was to report for Airshow 360. My friend, Lunar “L.M.” Sawyer, was unable to attend this air show and asked if I’d be willing to video some live reports and interviews. Such a cool opportunity to learn more about people, about airplanes and about videoing myself (you need more makeup than usual to look alive and healthy on camera, by the way).
2). There was also the cool experience of being PIC in the Helldiver for five whole minutes while being towed a whopping fifty yards, where the aircraft was repositioned for show preparation. There were people waving at me while we were moving along, sitting in the cockpit. My inner Queen Elizabeth came out, but with a much less polished hand wave.
3). While enjoying an awesome lunch, an adjacent table was filled with “Rosie the Riveter” impersonators AND authentic, original “Rosie the Riveters.” My local Women In Aviation chapter has taken opportunities to dress up like Rosie at local air show events. A few of our members were able to participate in the Guinness World Record Rosie The Riveter photo taken in Ypsilanti in October of 2017. There were nearly 4,000 women who dressed up like Rosie for this photo to honor the women who helped win World War 2.
The Women of World War 2
Ypsilanti, Michigan had a huge population of women and minorities that went to work at the Willow Run Bomber Plant. This particular location employed over 42,000 workers. The assembly line production that the auto industry had used allowed the production of a B-24 Liberator bomber every hour!! The Willow Run location is the home of Rose Will Monroe, the original “Rosie,” that most people think of and see in posters and pictures.
Women, minorities, and all Americans came together during the war by taking on jobs that the men had to abandon to fight in Europe as soldiers. This effort of all Americans may never be experienced or witnessed again. I speak for myself, but know that many of us have never experienced and can’t fully grasp what it would be like to have rations, to take on difficult jobs for which we have no experience or to live in a town that has been mostly evacuated by the men. The Americans that remained in the states took on many roles, not just riveting, that were once accomplished by men. This certainly made victory in Europe possible and changed the trajectory of women’s roles for the future.
School recently started back here in Cincinnati and of course, there are a gazillion back-to-school meetings to attend. I may be slightly exaggerating. It certainly feels that way when you have children in three different schools! One of the things I learned on curriculum night was that my 8th grader would be getting approximately one month of American history this school year and the majority of the time would be spent on World History. This irritates me. Is it really necessary to focus so much on World History at this age? He has four more years of high school and at least four years of college, after all.
The amount of American History taught in schools seems to be dwindling down more and more every year. I’m pretty patriotic and proud of our history here in the U.S. I’m aware that it’s not without mistakes and flaws (is there a country that hasn’t made some poor decisions?). You can be sure my family has always had plenty of history books (from toddler to teenager). We’ve watched television show series’ and movies that depict and tell the stories of many Americans and the American story.
Keep Rosie Alive
Meeting some of the original Rosies in Ypsilanti simply stressed the importance to me that we take on the responsibility of preserving our history for future generations. We cannot rely on society or our schools to do this. The war effort of the Rosies changed the course of history for our nation and the roles women would take on for the future. It demonstrated camaraderie, patriotism and sacrifice like we haven’t seen since.
I’m always grateful to meet people and make new friends at air shows. This particular one gave me goosebumps. Talking with these hard-working, self-sacrificing women, who had such an appreciation of each other and were simply proud to have been given the opportunity to help, was a once in a lifetime experience.
You can help preserve their stories by learning more about the Rosies, sharing this piece of history with others, or by donating to their cause. Learn more here: