Her picture was everywhere: black hair secured by a bandana that matched the color of her red lips, a sky-blue jumpsuit, and flexed and bulging biceps. And above the picture, those immortal words, “We Can Do It!” She was Rosie the Riveter, and she represented the more than 6 million women who worked on the home front in the defense and other industries during World War II. Now, more than half a century later, the Rosies are receiving national thanks and recognition. In mid-October, more than two thousand well-wishers gathered in Richmond, California, one of the largest warship production sites in the 1940s, to applaud the now white-haired riveters, truck drivers, child-care workers, nurses, drafters, and plumbers who helped drive the U.S. war effort. About 200 former Rosies were on hand for the dedication of a memorial in their honor—a 441-foot walkway with sculptural elements, leading to a San Francisco Bay lookout. A delegation of current tradeswomen in the crowd called on the U.S. government to offer today’s women help with child care, training, and transportation, just as the Rosies had been given. Marian Sousa (above) a World War II draftswoman, was also there and posed next to the U.S. Postal Service’s stamp honoring Rosie. Another former Rosie, Mabel Draxton, who came to the Richmond shipyards in 1943 from Minnesota, shared her memories of getting her first paycheck. “First I stuck it on my bedroom wall. Then I stuck it on the kitchen wall. I just never wanted to cash it, but of course I did.” Though the Rosies were sent home after the war, their financial, physical, and emotional emancipation forever shifted the terrain of women and work.

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