Gould, who worked as a welder building warships at the Kaiser-Richmond Shipyards in the 1940s, is one of the women who became collectively known as Rosie the Riveter during World War II. As the population of Rosies continues to age, Gould wants to ensure that the women laborers are not forgotten for their contributions that made victory possible for America during the war.
Due in large part to her letter-writing habit, the U.S. Senate declared March 21, 2017, the first ever Rosie the Riveter Day.
Rep. Jared Huffman of Marin, along with Democratic representatives Jackie Speier and Mark DeSaulnier and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., supported the passage of a 2017 Senate resolution making the Rosie the Riveter Day official.
The national observance was declared again on March 21 in 2018.
A resolution sponsored by Casey declaring the observance for Thursday was unanimously approved by the Senate last week.
Gould is elated that her efforts have paid off in the short-term. But she’s resolved to campaign for an observance declared in perpetuity.
“Something has to be done so there’s something tangible after we’re gone,” she said. “There were millions of us, but there’s nothing that says we were there.”
Huffman said it could be tough to gather enough support for a long-term holiday.
“I love the idea,” he said. “But, frankly, it’s been tough to pull off what we’ve done these last few years in drawing all of this new attention to the Rosies.”
Despite the challenge, Huffman said he’ll continue to push for a way to honor the women.
“They were an important part of our victory,” he said. “There needs to be recognition.”
Gould is determined. She’s preparing to postmark another letter to Washington, D.C., this week. It’s the best she can do from afar, she said.
“If I lived back east,” she said, “I would haunt the halls of Congress.”
Gould once wrote a letter to Joe Biden while he was vice president that got her invited to breakfast at his home in Washington, D.C. She also got her picture taken with President Barack Obama.
She knows that a note is sometimes all it takes to make a difference, but she doesn’t always count on a response. She has other strategies for accomplishing her goal.
In June, Gould will join four other Rosie the Riveters on a trip to Normandy, France, for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.
The anniversary will be celebrated there with military parades, concerts, picnics and fireworks. Gould is campaigning officials in charge of the celebration in hopes that she might have a chance to address the crowds.
“We need to be represented on the podium as partners to the military,” she said. “That would cement our place in history. … I just feel so frustrated most of the time that we can’t get a stage to blast out our stories.”
Gould has ridden a roller coaster of emotions in her years-long quest for recognition, she said. But she’s not giving up any time soon. Politicians can expect to continue seeing her name in their mailboxes.
“I know they’re busy with really important stuff, but this is important to us,” she said. “And time is running out.”
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