It was a moment to stop and smell the roses and celebrate the local Rosie the Riveters last Friday.
Huddled under a pair of pop-up canopies, over 50 people gathered at the women’s veteran memorial in Springfield for a ceremonial planting of the Rosie the Riveter rose to celebrate the women who worked during World War II.
“It’s just kind of amazing that so many people are interested in this era because we’re talking about the third generation away, you know,” said 95-year old Cottage Grove resident and Rosie the Riveter member Opal Nelson. “So it amazes me that there is so much interest in it. Well, actually, people seem to realize that World War II was the last, I don’t know how to put it, the last conflict that made sense.”
Nelson, who is often speaking to different groups about the importance of the work at home during World War II, was happy to see the women being honored because “the actual people that did the work are getting kind of rare.”
With the mayor of Springfield on hand and messages from representatives around the state read to the group, the group celebrated the first Rosie the Riveter Memorial garden in the state of Oregon. The language describing the flower that was planted as being “beautiful, hardy and independent” was also used to describe the women who were honored at the ceremony.
When the U.S. got involved in World War II and men went off to fight in 1941, it was the women at home who took on new responsibilities to prepare for the war effort. The national group that was created in 1998 was named after the iconic Rosie the Riveter image that promoted women in the work force and celebrates the women who in those years were working.
“The Rosies have said that they didn’t even think about the work that they did in World War II until this organization started. And now that we have this organization and we’ve been doing events nationwide and letting people know that it’s growing in interest and growing in interest for all ages of people,” said Dr. Yvonne Fasold a Cottage Grove High School graduate of 1963 and former American Rosie the Riveter Association president.
At Friday’s event women who worked during World War II, or their daughters or granddaughters who are called Rose Buds, shared what they did. From working as plane spotters to preparing mosquito nets so troops were shielded from malaria, the women who are now in their 90s had their hands in everything.
“Well I was in high school – my last year of high school – when a man came out from the Treasury department asking if we had any typists in the group because they want to hire some typists to type war bonds,” said local Cottage Grove resident Doris Graham. “I wasn’t a very good typist but I volunteered and I went to work the day after I graduated.”
The American Rosie the Riveter Association is working to plant this rose in every congressional district by August 2020 which is the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War II.