Searching for Opelika’s “Rosies”

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How many times have you read or heard about something and thought, “Darn, why didn’t I think of that!” or, worst still, “Why didn’t I do something about that when I thought about it last year!”

Earlier this week, we received a letter from the American Rosie the Riveter Association, an organization of women who worked in the war effort of the second world war.

These women all have stories to tell, stories that are a part of our history.

Never before had American women worked so extensively in occupations that were heretofore viewed as strictly for men.

An estimated 18 million women across America pitched in, doing whatever they could to help win the war on the home front.

They worked in steel mills and foundries.

They toiled in lumber mills and aircraft factories.

They took their husbands’ places in their offices and businesses.

They practiced the healing arts in hospitals, doctor’s offices and in medic stations across the globe.

And when the war winded down and the men came home, so many of those women went right back to their homes, without proper thanks, honors or accolades for their hard work, determination and sacrifice.

The association is attempting to locate women in our area who worked in the WWII war effort.

We’d like to locate them, too.

We want them to cooperate with the broader, RTR Association effort at recording their stories for posterity.

But, we would also like to share these stories with our readers.

Please let us hear from you.

On a related topic, we have reproduced, on our front page, the poster used to encourage women to work outside the home during WWII.

This image, commissioned by the U.S. War Production Coordinating Committee and created by artist J. Howard Miller, is the one most associated with the phrase “Rosie the Riveter.”

She was meant to represent the ideal female worker and to help fill the temporary industrial labor shortage caused by the combination of fewer male workers (due to the draft and/or enlistments) and greatly increased production of military equipment and supplies.

Contrary to some thinking, Rosie was not supposed to promote change or enhance the role of women in society and the workplace.

Thankfully, that change did come, but Rosie is not the symbol some like to claim she is.

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