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Pride and Purpose: Rosie the Riveters inspire women of today

The “Rosie the Riveters” of World War II are an inspiration to all generations for their courage and commitment and for blazing the trail that changed the way women were viewed in the workforce, one airman recalled.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Callie Aberin of the Airman Leadership School at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., looked back this Veterans Day on these women who left an indelible mark on her.

The “We Can Do It!” poster was aimed at boosting morale among workers in the World War II factories producing war materiel. (Courtesy photograph)

Millions of women during World War II stood up when their country needed them, entering the workforce to fill gaps left by men who were fighting the war. These women, popularly known as “Rosie the Riveters,” worked in factories, shipyards, and elsewhere in defense production.

Aberin said she jumped at the chance to attend an event at Travis Air Force Base in 2019 featuring four Rosies — Agnes Moore, Kay Morrison, Marian Sousa, and Marian Wynn.

The women shared their experiences working at the Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond, California, and spoke about the pride and purpose in their work, Aberin said.

“That made me kind of sit back and think about when I joined and the pride and purpose that I had then, and the pride and purpose that they had when they needed to step up,” the airman said.

Aberin said she will share these lessons with her students and with her daughter, to show you can accomplish anything with courage and determination.

Recruiting campaigns during the war urged women to enter the workforce as part of a patriotic duty to their country.

An iconic depiction of a Rosie is a wartime poster of a strong, confident female worker flexing her muscle with the words emblazoned above: “We Can Do It.”

The Rosies were bold, breaking down barriers and proving, without a doubt, that women could accomplish the same tasks as men.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Asia Cook, 860th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron debrief noncommissioned officer in charge, takes a picture of Maj. Kelly Womble, 860th AMXS operations officer and Rosie the Riveters Marian Sousa, Marian Wynn, Agnes Moore, and Kay Morrison June 25, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. The Rosies were at Travis AFB to share experiences with female maintainers assigned to the 60th Maintenance Group. Used in movies, newspapers, posters, photographs, and articles, the Rosie the Riveter campaign stressed the patriotic need for women to enter the workforce during World War II. Though women filled many positions during the war, the aviation industry saw the greatest increase in female workers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heide Couch)

“I think the Rosies set that example of independence, and I can’t even imagine what it was like prior to that,” Aberin said. “I’m so thankful and so grateful for those six million women that said, ‘I can.'”

The women faced challenges, but they persevered, she said. “It shows that when faced with adversity, you have to go with your gut, and you have to do what is right,” Aberin said.

The Rosies teach us the importance of staying true to yourself and living with commitment, Aberin said, adding: “You can change so much just by being you and finding purpose in the daily task.”

Aberin has a treasured memento from the event: a book signed by the Rosies. Aberin said she will give the keepsake to her daughter to teach her about the past and the importance of living and working with purpose and courage.

“I’m thankful for their strength, because they are that example that I can show my daughter,” Aberin said, adding she will carry forward the incredible legacy and lessons of the Rosies.

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