A classic WWII Icon of female empowerment, Rosie the Riveter quickly became a globally recognized symbol for the strength of the American Woman when she was first introduced in 1942. A product of the war effort, Rosie’s image was based upon Rose Will Monroe who spent her days riveting B-24 bombers at the Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Ypsilanti. From her station, she did her part to smash the Axis powers from the face of the earth.
Now, 70 years after the end of WWII, she’s proving that strength and spirit are timeless. So much so, that when an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for “Most Rosie the Riveters Captured In One Photograph” was made at the same Willow Run bomber plant this week, almost 2,100 women showed up as the iconic industrial worker to prove that yes, she can still do it!
And, she did it in style! With the classic blue overalls and red bandanna with white polka-dots, Rosie is a timeless emblem of the resilient spirit of the American woman. That spirit was well demonstrated in confident fashion by the three generations who were present in the crowd. In the timeless words of Rosie herself, “We can still do it!”
The event was full of nostalgia. While the music and the original bombers in the background added remarkable ambiance to the event, what made it truly special was the presence of dozens of original Rosie’s; many of whom had once done their part on that same Willow Run line that scared Hitler and Hirohito so much that both spent the war pondering ways to shut it down. Rosie and her sisters didn’t give ’em the chance and at its peak performance in 1944, the factory produced a B-24 bomber every 63 minutes.
The 2,096 women who attended came from sixteen different states as well as Canada to be a part of this historic event and to do their part to help preserve the history. That number completely shattered the previous record of 1,084 set in August at the Rosie the Riveter Memorial in Richmond’s Park, California. Even after all this time, the two factories still have a bit of a rivalry going over who did the most to help win the war.
The record setting event was organized as part of a campaign to save the bomber plant and build a permanent museum to the war effort on the site. The effort was successful and the next stage is to secure funding for upgrades and exhibits in order to open the site to the public. It’s a big effort, but with the spirit of Rosie lifting their wings, organizers are confident their plan will soon take flight.