Why Rosie the Riveter Gardens?
The Spirit of ’45.org is an alliance of organizations and individuals working to preserve and honor the legacy of all the men and women of America’s WWII generation since 2009.
As a result of their federal campaign, called “Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive”, Congress got on board and voted unanimous support for observing March 21 and August 14th as the ‘National Spirit of ’45 Days’.
These dates are in connection with other National Celebrations: March is National Women’s Month, and August 14 is Victory of Japan Day.
Since its origination, the program has grown by forming alliances with other service & non-profit groups throughout the country who believe in this message.
From a rose growers standpoint, this movement has spawned the ‘Rosie the Riveter’ Rose Gardens throughout the US to help bring this effort right into local communities.
We Rosarian types can plant 3-12 of the ‘Rosie the Riveter’ rose bushes in our major community gardens as a stand-alone garden – or in a portion of the large existing one. There are no limits.
Only 3 Rosie the Riveter rose bushes and a sign in any community garden seems like a modest effort toward unifying this legacy for all the women in our lives – young and old.
Was Rosie a real person ?
Oh, yes Rosie was very real – and worked in a factory.
Rosie was the iconic symbol of the American women’s work force during WWII, and was immortalized in this famous art poster of a determined factory worker stepping up with other women to join the war effort.
Her original image is by J. Howard Miller and has since been restored by Adam Cuerden. The image is based on a real factory worker named Naomi Parker Fraley, who was photographed working on an aircraft assembly milling machine at the Naval Air Station Alameda, Alameda, California.
Many of us thought for years that it was based on a Boeing factory worker in Seattle, but that has been revisited since Mrs Fraley stepped forward recently. No matter in the end. The image appeared on many posters during the war – and has reappeared once again during the American Covid-19 pandemic as an empowering icon.
American women played valuable roles during World War II, both at home like Rosie, and in uniform:
~They worked to produce tanks, ships, planes and other heavy industries for the effort.
~More than 5 million civilian women stepped up to serve in the civil defense and commercial sectors throughout the war years.
~Almost all women learned traditionally male jobs when the men were off to the front lines.
~In 1942, Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb composed a song called “Rosie the Riveter.”
~Artist Norman Rockwell’s cover for the May 29, 1944, issue of The Saturday Evening Post magazine was an illustration of a female riveter with the name “Rosie” painted on the lunch pail.
~Around 350,000 American women served in uniform at home and abroad, volunteering to serve in all of the Armed Services.
~Some women even served near the front lines of the Army Nurse Corps.
~Many were killed in direct enemy fire, and some were captured as prisoners of war.
~But many nurses were decorated for their bravery and meritorious service in both Combat Theaters.
With Covid-19 – Rosie’s ‘Can Do’ message is relevant again
The idea for Rosie Rose Gardens grew as it was realized that there was no fitting memorial to the ‘Rosies’ who had worked on the home front during one of America’s most critical times. There wasn’t even mention of them on the National WWII Memorial on the National Mall.
The Spirit of ’45 organization has stepped up to answer this with a national network of rose gardens in their honor. They’re perfect places to reflect on the context of that time, and remember the ‘Rosies’ as hard working, local contributors to the war effort – and give their legacy to the country a chance to be carried forward by younger women and girls. Since it’s also about empowerment.
Over recent years, thanks in part to their efforts, recognition for the “Rosies” has finally been gaining momentum. The U.S. Postal Service even issued a stamp in the 1990s featuring an image of Rosie the Riveter for our snail mail & postcards.
The garden project is getting some traction now . . .
Starting in Long Beach, CA in 2017, the gardens have been coming on board, usually as part of various local WWII memorials and parks. Only Oregon has adopted this program fully so far. But there’s an opportunity for rosarians to do more in each state. And getting one started is a simple process.
The criteria is simple for inclusion:
-Plant 3 or more “Rosie the Riveter” rose bushes with a well-dressed helper, and
-That the Rosie the Riveter sign (shown below) be displayed.
-Plan observances for March 21 during National Women’s History Month,
-and plan for similar observances during the Spirit of ’45 Weekend in mid-August.
The work needs to continue. .
The virus has inundated U.S. hospitals and health care facilities over the past 6 months here in 2020. As of October as I write this, more than 7.73M cases have been diagnosed in the U.S., culminating in more than 214K deaths reported. But experts say it may still get worse before it gets better.
Vaccines are in the works, but may not become available until 2021 for the general population.
But just looking at some of the many WWII veterans can give us all hope. Many of the World War II veterans who have gotten the virus have since recovered – a huge feat because the whole U.S. population over 70 with underlying health conditions has been a hard-hit age group.
But many more from ‘The Greatest Generation’ will never get the recognition – including the ‘Rosies’.
As of January there were Rosie Gardens in full display or in preliminary stages in only 28 states. Naturally, the goals are for one in each state, with further plans for 1 in each legislative district also.
Goals are great, but plans get things done. We’ll see . . .
What we can do for the ‘Rosies’
The public is invited to participate in this national campaign to create a Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Garden by planting a Garden in their community and organizing 2 local annual activities to honor these Americans now, so that it will continue to inspire future generations of young American women.
The American Rose Society is one of the Community Partners of ‘Spirit of ’45’, along with other substantial national groups such as the National Park Service, the American Legion, and many local Girl Scout Troops. If we do get involved at the local level, we’re in good company, and may find some planting and media helpers along the way. We all need some feel-good stories right now.
To help you get started, Spirit of ’45 has highlighted some basic steps for creating and sustaining a Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Garden.
In any American community, they can be a part of a larger national network:
-Choose a location that makes sense, like a civic or library building.
-Order ‘Rosie the Riveter’ Roses. 3 – 12 bushes will do nicely.
-Invite partners from your community: businesses, leaders, groups.
-Order an official Garden sign from Carlson Signs.
-Notify the local media of your event, and share the national story in your newsletter & on your website.
-Plan online events and activities around the planting day online and on social media.
Order bushes & a yard sign below for Fall planting
–Bushes are available to order at both High Country Nursery and Edmunds Nursery.
–The signs are available directly from the sign maker, Carlson Signs
The more people who know about this effort, the better, so feel free to share this post with your friends and any members of other Rose Societies out there.
3 Rosie the Riveter rose bushes and a sign in any community garden is a modest effort toward unifying this legacy for all the women in our lives.