An estimated 2,265 "Rosies" turned out for a rally and requisite photo op at the historic Craneway Pavilion on the waterfront at the site of a former Ford Assembly plant. The Rosies are a name for the women who entered the workforce during World War II to assist with the home front effort, working as welders, electricians and draftsmen -- or is it draftswomen -- while men were in the military. Since then, the image of Rosie, in her denim shirt and polka dot bandanna, proclaiming "We Can Do It," has become a symbol of female empowerment.
The previous world record was held by Ypsilanti, Michigan, the site of a former World War II bomber plant, which last October bested the record set in Richmond a year ago.
Richmond, home of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, regained the record this weekend, with they tally done by volunteer stewards, although an official count won't be released until Monday.
The women, and men, since for the first time ever, those with a Y chromosome were allowed to take part, came from all over the Bay Area to honor the legacy of the Rosies. One of them was Monica Christopher, 51, of Benicia, whose grandmother, Lona, worked as a security guard in the Kaiser shipyards and sang at one of the blessings of the victory ships before it sailed off to war.
"I thought this would be a great way to honor her memory," Christopher said. Kevin Lazzini, 33, of San Jose, carried one of his daughters on his shoulders, both decked out in the required red bandannas, denim shirts, red socks and work boots. His parents, wife and other daughter also accompanied him to help make history, in the year that saw a woman become the first presidential nominee and women win dozens of medals at the Olympics.
"Rosie is an icon and someone who made important contributions to women's rights," Lazzini said.
Rosie the Riveter gets its name from a poster drawn by Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller in 1942, part of the wartime propaganda effort. There was no one "Rosie" although several women have come forward to claim that the image was modeled on their photo.
Also present on Saturday were the original Rosies, including Agnes Moore, 96, who went to work as a welder in the shipyards in 1942 after hearing a radio announcer call on women to "do something for your country, go to Richmond Shipyards." Moore spent four years as a welder, although after the war she was forced to stop working and go back to the unpaid work of running a household and taking care of children as men came back from the front.
Still, she said, their contributions made it possible for the next generation of women to pursue careers, including nontraditional roles such as firefighting and law enforcement. Some of those women made sure to come up to Moore and other original Rosies and personally thank them Saturday.
"It was exciting to see so many people there, people who support us and thanked us for opening the door to them (women workers)," Moore said.
Despite the feel-good reverie of "girl power" and strides made toward equality, some acknowledged that true parity has remained elusive, as women continue to earn an average of 79 cents for every dollar that men make.
"History is not separate from what is happening today," said Ann Lehr, of Walnut Creek, and one of the attendees on Saturday. "Certainly we've made progress, but there's still a long way to go."
By Karina Ioffee at Bay Area News Group. Read the article in its original form here!