Levittown woman fights for Rosie the Riveter Day in Washington
She joined the fight more than 70 years ago to help defeat the Nazis in World War II, and she joined the fight more than 30 years ago to have women recognized for their wartime work.
And now on the eve of her 91st birthday and the first national observance of Rosie the Riveter Day, Mae Krier, of Bristol Township, is heading to Washington, D.C. to fight some more.
"This is only good for this year," said Krier, of the township's Levittown section. "We have to make it so it's observed every year. The men went off to fight the Germans, and the women went to the factories to build everything they needed. They came home to parades, we got a pink slip. We are past due for some recognition."
The Doylestown chapter of the Twilight Wish Foundation organized Tuesday's trip to Washington for Krier and others who are trying to make March 21 an official day of observance for Rosie the Riveter, the name given to millions of women who entered the workforce to build ships, warplanes and weapons to fight the war.
Krier, her sister and a friend worked at Boeing in Seattle, where 17,000 B-17s and B-29s were built between 1942 and 1945. She has been campaigning since the 1980s for recognition for the women who showed America's enemies that strength and bravery did not belong exclusively to men.
"Hitler thought American women were soft, and that we could not produce because we were more concerned about shopping and keeping the house," Krier said. "We showed him what American women are really made of."
After decades of letter writing, phone calls and office visits, Krier had her first real victory last year when the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a resolution marking May 23, 2016, as Rosie the Riveter Day. Happy, but eager for wider recognition, Krier was encouraged when Sen. Bob Casey introduced legislation this month calling for a national Rosie the Riveter Day.
"There is no greater call in life than serving your country," said Casey in a statement. "These Rosie the Riveters answered that call, putting aside their personal lives to join the workforce and work in the shipyards, airplane and ammunition factories that helped to end World War II. Honoring these brave woman with a National Rosie the Riveter Day is the least we can do to recognize their service and I am happy to support this effort in Congress."
House rules created in the mid-1990s prohibit members of the House of Representatives from introducing legislation related to marking national holidays or days of observances. However, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, R-8, of Middletown, co-sponsored a resolution of support for the Senate bill, echoing a 2015 resolution from his brother, Mike Fitzpatrick. The Senate bill requires House approval before it can become a permanent annual observance.
"As we mark the contributions and triumphs of women this Women’s History Month, I’m proud to join the effort to recognize these heroes with a National Rosie the Riveter Day," said Fitzpatrick. "I’m especially proud to represent a 'Rosie' and Bucks County native, Mae Krier, for her tireless effort in advocating for this long deserved recognition."
A spokesperson from Congressman Brendan Boyle's office said the 13th District representative joined the bipartisan resolution Monday.
"We owe a debt of gratitude to these powerful women," said Boyle in a statement. "By honoring by honoring 'Rosie the Riveter,' we honor the millions of women who embodied what Rosie stood for: strength and patriotism in service to country during a time of need."
Krier will be joined in Washington by another Rosie the Riveter, Anna Hess, of West Virginia; Anne Montague of the Rosie the Riveter Project; and members of the West Point Society. They will attend with a member of Fitzpatrick's staff a series of meetings starting at 9 a.m., including sit-downs with Casey and Fitzpatrick. The day will be topped by a presentation at the Capitol, where they will speak to congressional staffers and visitors and sign photos.
"There's not many Rosies left these days," said Krier. "A few of us get together once in a while, they love to tell their stories and talk about how proud they are for what they did. I always say had it not been for the American women and what we did, we might be speaking German or Japanese today."