Eileen Marie Caulfield was a “Rosie the Riveter.”
She worked in a New York City manufacturing plant for about three years making airplane parts during World War II.
So, when her son, Tom Caulfield, learned all of the Rosies were one step closer to receiving a major national honor decades after their work on the home front helped defeat the Axis, he felt a sense of appreciation.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate passed the Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act, which was introduced by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat from Scranton.
The text of the act states: “To award a Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the women in the United States who joined the workforce during World War II, providing the aircraft, vehicles, weaponry, ammunition, and other materials to win the war, that were referred to as ‘Rosie the Riveter,’ in recognition of their contributions to the United States and the inspiration they have provided to ensuing generations.”
The act previously passed the U.S. House of Representatives.
It will now go to President Donald Trump for his signature to become law.
“I think it’s long overdue,” said Caulfield, director of Veteran Community Initiatives, a local nonprofit that supports former military personnel.
“There’s no doubt about it. These millions of women played what was really a major role in our most highly successful war effort.”
His mother and other family members, including his father, Tom Caulfield Sr., who served in North Africa during World War II, often talked about the work done by the women in factories and other businesses.
“I learned about them from early on times, my early youth,” Caulfield said. “I read about them. I learned about them. I heard about the roles that the Rosies played in our military missions. I think, overall for far too long, the Rosies have not received their due recognition.
“I applaud Sen. Casey and all of those who made it possible to pass that Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act.”
More than 6 million women entered the workforce from 1941-45.
Their impact still remains 75 years after the war ended.
Caulfield called the Rosies “precursors to our outstanding and very effective female workforce we have today.”
The women “rose to the challenge and set a powerful example – not only for working women, but for all Americans,” according to Casey.
“Millions of women helped support our troops during WWII, whether they worked on assembly lines, addressed the troops’ medical needs or tended to ships and farms,” Casey said in a press release statement.
“Today, their example continues to inspire generations to embody the ‘We Can Do It’ spirit. The ‘Rosies’ are among our nation’s greatest living heroines, and they deserve this long-overdue recognition for their tremendous service to our country.”
Casey was joined in the effort to pass the act by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), along with U.S. Reps. Jackie Speier (D-California 14th) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania 1st). Seventy-six senators, including Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey, signed on as co-sponsors.
“During World War II, the entire nation mobilized in a way never seen before,” Toomey said.
“While brave service members fought abroad, women all across the country joined the workforce to support the war efforts. The iconic image of Rosie the Riveter served as an inspiration to those women, and continues to inspire women today. With the passage of the Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act, we enshrine the contributions of those women who stepped up when their country needed them.”