“They were the worker bees. They were in the factories producing all the ships and the ammunition that was needed, but they didn’t necessarily have a sense of what was going on tactically,” said Kelli English, Chief of Interpretation and Education at the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park.
The Rosie the Riveter Museum in Richmond commemorates the war efforts back on the homefront. Kay Morrison was a 20-year-old welder in the Kaiser ship-building factory and said they were cranking out two to three ships per week, but were never told where any of them were going.
“We didn’t have time to talk,” Morrison said. “We were there to work, to get the ships built.”
So, even though it took weeks to amass the 150,000 troops in England, almost no one here was aware of it. The press willingly abided by military commands and communications in the 1940’s simply weren’t very fast.
“Certainly, the lead up to it, I don’t know that a lot of people knew about it ahead of time,” said English. “And the radio, whereas we might have found out about it in a matter of an hour, for them it might have been a day and a half.”
But by the evening of D-Day, the Germans were on the run and the Allies had their foothold into Europe. Perhaps because of that, Morrison remembers the news came back quickly.
“We talked about it once we heard about it,” said Morrison, “You know, ‘Hey, guess what?’ And it was just a feeling then of victory.”
The true victory happened less than a year later, with an end to Hitler and the War in Europe. And the rest, as they say, is history. But it is a history that swung on a single fateful day 75 years ago.
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