Rosie the Riveter is a symbol of female strength and determination in a time of great need. On January 29th, she was immortalized at the Bishop Airport in Flint, MI. The sculpture, done by Joe Rundell, depicts a woman in a collared shirt and a familiar bandana. Her bicep flexed; this woman seems ready to take on the world.
Rosie the Riveter first appeared in the World War II-era when women were called upon to fill jobs normally done by men. Many of these women had children at home, so the US needed something to motivate them to do their patriotic duty. Enter Rosie the Riveter.
The first time Rosie showed up in propaganda was in 1942 by an artist named J. Howard Miller. This is the image that we all associate with Rosie the Riveter, with her polka-dotted bandana and blue collared shirt. However, this image was titled “We Can Do It!” and had no association with Rosie at the time. Rosie showed up in a song written in 1943 called “Rosie the Riveter” by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. The song is about the American woman doing her patriotic duty on the home front!
Inspired by the song Norman Rockwell drew what he thought Rosie the Riveter might have looked like. This was a much more masculine version of the character. With brawny biceps, eating a sandwich, with “Mein Kampf” (Hitler’s manifesto) crushed under her boot. The lunchbox she carries has her name “Rosie” on it, so there’s no mistaking who this character is supposed to be.
This character inspired many and women began to work in traditionally “masculine” jobs to support the war effort. These women overcame many obstacles and oftentimes had to take turns watching over each other’s children. But there was work to be done, and far be it from American women to leave the call unanswered. Rosie the Riveter was, and still is a symbol of strength, determination, and independence for women all across America.