Bells across West Virginia to honor Rosie the Riveters

CHARLESTON — Bells will ring across West Virginia, the country and some European nations on Labor Day to honor the American Rosie the Riveters movement.

Rosie the Riveters were women who worked in U.S. defense plants during World War II.

After 10 years conducting interviews, holding events and creating projects to help all Americans to find and work with living Rosie the Riveters, the Charleston-based organization Thanks! Plain and Simple Inc. is celebrating the start of a four-year movement to firmly root the legacy of the Rosies’ American identity and as a model for people in America and other nations.

The events start at 12:30 p.m. and bells will be rung at 1 p.m. on Labor Day in Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Frederick, Md., Los Angeles, London, England, and Nijmegen, Netherlands.

West Virginia locations include Charleston, South Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, Glenville, Rowlesburg, Blooming Rose and Grafton. Other locations include Marietta.

For more information, visit rosietherivetermovement.org.

“The bells stand for ‘every voice counts’ and the unity across locations stands for unity in preserving the legacy of Rosies,” Anne Montague, founder and executive director of Thanks, said. “Rosie the Riveters are an example of how people can and will pull together to do highest-quality work, cooperatively for a higher cause. Americans have examples of work they can replicate and add to both nationally and internationally. ‘We pull better when we pull together’ was chanted by Rosies doing many jobs in factories, farms, and for the government during World War II.

“It is a rare blessing to know these women, and it is a great pleasure to see people’s amazement at how much Rosies tell us about the fuller story of World War II, how women cared for men who were injured in body and spirit, and how they raised their children to value education and the value of work. Now they are all at least 90-years old,” said Montague.

Successes of Thanks! over the decade from West Virginia include naming the first government building in America the Rosie the Riveter Building; named two interstate bridges in West Virginia the Rosie the Riveter Bridge; started the Bluebird for Rosies project in Maryland; given awards to nine Americans for work with Rosies; been covered by the Today Show, New York Times, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer; built the only park in America designed by Rosie the Riveters; made a documentary film; commissioned two Rosie songs (one was performed by the Philadelphia Girls Choir); hosted or been hosted by three embassies, met with the King and Queen of the Netherlands, and made two trips to the Netherlands.

“We must move fast to get Americans to find and learn from these women. I’ve learned and taught others more than I could ever have imagined when I started the work a decade ago,” said Montague.

The public is encouraged to report any Rosie the Riveters they know and to help in other ways. Those who ring bells for Rosies should send them to managingbetter@earthlink.net

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Editor’s Note: This story was provided by the West Virginia Press Association.

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